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Full text of ""Commy": the life story of Charles A. Comiskey, the "Grand old Roman" of baseball and for nineteen years president and owner of the American league baseball team "The White Sox,""

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_^ j 


The Life Story of 


The "Grand Old Roman" of Baseball 

and for Nineteen Years President 

and Owner of the American 

League Baseball Team 

"The White Sox" 

Told by 

Eighteen Illustrations 

The Reilly & Lee Co. 


Copyright, 1919 

The Reilly & Lee Co. 

All Eights Eeserved 
Made in U. S. A. 

" Commy " 






IV * ' DEE Boss PEESIDENT " 55 

V A $15,000 SLIDE 77 







FLAGS 166 








ROMAN " 300 

XIX BY " COMMY " HIMSELF. . . 314 




High lights in Comiskey's career Libertys claim 
him first World loses indifferent teamster but 
gains a great ball player Born in the greatest 
baseball city The original White Stockings of 
1870 Two jolts for Cincinnati Red Stockings. 

In the Centennial year of 1876 there appeared 
on Chicago's diamonds a tall and lanky youth 
known to local fame as a pitcher. He brought 
into the game a sinewy right arm, a pair of 
speedy legs and a strong individuality. An event- 
ful career of forty-three years has well-nigh 
robbed him of all but the last. But this indi- 
viduality sets him apart from others now as it 
did in '76. Were it otherwise there would be no 
occasion to enter upon the life story of Charles 
Albert Comiskey, known to millions as a player, 
manager, club-owner and man. 

Cast in a daring mold he scorned precedent 

8 " Commy " 

and cut loose from tradition to the advantage of 
the sport which he has helped to make America's 
own. As a player and manager he blazed the 
way for a new game on the ball field. He pried 
the first baseman loose from the bag to which 
he had been anchored since baseball was young 
and he himself set a pace in the position that has 
not been surpassed. 

Comiskey made a mobile force of the infield 
and his aggressiveness compelled the overhaul- 
ing of the playing rules. He turned baseball 
from the channels of evolution into those of revo- 
lution and while still in the flush of youth became 
its greatest exponent. He brought four successive 
pennants to St. Louis. He has given to Chicago 
as many. He topped the eight with three world's 
titles: eleven in all a record without a paral- 
lel in the sport. 

Becoming master of his own fortunes he sought 
out new worlds to conquer. His energy, daring 
and judgment became proverbial. " Comiskey 
tours " came to have a new meaning in the 
peregrinations of ball teams. De Luxe specials 
supplanted the day coach. He was the first to 
pitch his training camp in foreign lands. His 
autumnal jaunts into the wilds of the northern 
woods at the head of the faithful, marked the 
peak in hospitality. 

Baseball or Bricks 9 

Having explored every nook and corner of his 
native land he looked beyond the seas, circled 
the globe, and the opportunity was afforded the 
elect of the earth to see the White Sox and Giants 
in action. 

Being the champion hard loser of the universe 
he took chances that others dodged. His optim- 
ism, the heritage of his race, saw him through. 
New ventures became commonplace. Paying 
$50,000 for a ball player was a mere formality. 
The building of a half-a-million-dollar baseball 
plant was a matter of bookkeeping dependent 
on the balance in the bank. 

As for his principal hazards, Comiskey himself 
confesses to only one gamble the invasion of 
Chicago with his White Sox. On this he staked 
everything he possessed and in addition gave a 
mortgage on the future. Within a few years he 
was in sole possession of a major league ball 
club 'the only player who had ever risen from 
the ranks to that distinction. He is the only 
American or National league owner without a 
partner in a business where turnstiles alone dic- 
tate the size of the bank account. 

Around the council table his fellow owners 
respected his judgment from the beginning. 
Rival magnates insisted that he was the brains of 
the American League, but regardless of opinions 

10 " Commy " 

all came to love Mm for what he was a man. 
His physical makeup and personal traits made 
him the " Old Roman " to the millions who 
watched him as leader of the St. Louis Browns. 
To his pals, who are legion, he was, and is, simply 
" Commy, " and by that appellation he will be 
best known to posterity. 

Comiskey's entrance into baseball did not 
differ greatly from that of other boys of his age. 
He learned the game on the prairies as did the 
rest but unlike others he chose it as a calling 
while to the majority of his team-mates it never 
was anything but a pastime. A load of brick 
proved the turning point. An irate father unwit- 
tingly aided him in making his decision. 

It was on a summer's day in 1876 that the 
future owner of world's champions encountered 
his destiny at the corner of Jackson and Laflin 
streets in Chicago. From the driver's seat of a 
brick wagon he noticed that the Libertys ' pitcher, 
trying out for an important contest with the 
Franklins, was having the life hammered out of 
him, on a nearby diamond. Dropping the reins, 
as he hopped down from his perch, the batters 
soon were swinging at different curves. 

Two miles to the northeast there were loud 
calls for bricks. Chicago's City Hall could not 
rise from the ashes of '71 without them. Tele- 

Baseball or Bricks 11 

phones not being available in those days it was 
not until the shank-end of the try-out that the 
mystery was solved. It was about that period 
in our national sport that " Honest John " 
Comiskey, alderman from the Seventh Ward and 
Democratic leader, found the charioteer of the 
load of brick on the point of striking out the side. 

The discovery and surprise were mutual but 
each kept his own counsel. The father swung 
himself up behind the bays and departed. The 
son finished the game and went home> but with 
some trepidation. He surmised that he had come 
to the parting of the ways. It would have to be 
baseball or bricks. At the family council that 
night the world lost an indifferent teamster but 
gained a great ball player. 

Forty-one years later the Chicago City Council, 
in meeting assembled, on the very spot towards 
which that load of bricks had been headed, passed 
the following resolution: 

Whereas, Our favorites, the White Sox, 
have won the pennant in the American 
League and with it the right to compete in a 
series with the New York Giants for the 
World's Baseball Championship, therefore 
be it 

Resolved, that the City Council of the City 

12 " Commy " 

of Chicago hereby extends its congratula- 
tions to Charles A. Comiskey and to the 
members of his baseball team for their splen- 
did victory, and its best wishes that the 
White Sox may win further honors for them- 
selves, their owner, and Chicago, by showing 
New York's team that the " I Will " spirit 
is not to be denied. 

The span measures the time between the un- 
finished journey from the brick-yard at Twenty- 
second and Laflin streets to the corner of LaSalle 
and Washington, and the completed pennant race 
in 1917. Comiskey was the headliner in both 
incidents. Tack on seventeen years and you have 
his age at that time, counting from August 15, 

Important changes have marked that period of 
three score years. Baseball has had its share. 
At Comiskey 's birth the game was just discard- 
ing its swaddling clothes. As he grew to man- 
hood it could still be considered a novelty. 
Critics might disagree as to the newness of the 
pastime, accepting the verdict of history that it 
had been played as early as 1839, or even before 
that year, yet it was not until the early Seventies 
that it was generally recognized as America's 
" national " sport. 

Baseball or Bricks 13 

Prior to the Civil War days there were sporadic 
attempts to organize teams but it was not until 
the late Sixties that the sport assumed a sectional 
character. What contests there had been were 
purely of local interest. The Knickerbocker Club 
of New York was organized in 1845 and the first 
match game on record was played a year later at 
Hoboken, New Jersey. It may be noticed that 
through the " aQe " scoring which prevailed in 
those days, only four innings were required by 
the " New York Club," a pick-up nine, to get 
the first decision. 

As early as 1866 the sporting authorities of 
that period considered baseball of national 
importance, even though no intersectional leagues 
had been organized and no schedules drawn up. 
The following is taken from Charles A. Pever- 
elly's " Book of American Pastimes," published 
at New York, 1866: 

The game of baseball has now become, 
beyond question, the leading feature of the 
outdoor sports of the United States, and to 
account for its truly proud position, there 
are many and sufficient reasons. It is a game 
which is peculiarly suited to the American 
temperament and disposition; the nine 
innings are played in the brief space of two 

14 "Commy" 

and a half hours or less. From the moment 
the first striker takes his position and poises 
his bat it has excitement and vim about it 
until the last hand is put out in the ninth 
inning. There is no delay or suspense about 
it from the beginning to end ; and, even if one 
feels disposed to leave the ground, tempo- 
rarily, he will generally waive this desire, 
especially if it is a close contest, from fear 
of missing some good point or clever effort 
of the trial. 

An American assemblage cannot be kept in 
one locality for the period of two or three 
hours, without being offered something above 
the ordinary run of excitement and attrac- 

Wherever established it (the game) has 
quickly had the sentiment and good feeling 
of the community with it, and with scarcely 
an effort, achieved solid popularity. Having 
no debasing attributes and being worthy of 
the presence of the good and refined, it has 
everywhere been countenanced and encour- 
aged by our best citizens: and, of the thou- 
sands who gather at important matches, we 
have always noted with sincere gratification 
that the ladies constituted an honored pro- 

Baseball or Bricks 15 

It is to be regretted that Alderman Comiskey 
had not perused Peverelly's book at the time of 
the halted brick wagon. Had it formed part of 
his library he possibly would have developed a 
more lenient attitude towards the pastime and 
kept his son at home. In that case Milwaukee, 
Elgin, Dubuque, St. Louis, Cincinnati and St. 
Paul, would not have had the opportunity to 
boast of the prowess of the lean twirler and 
first baseman. 

Although the historical side of the sport will 
only be lightly touched upon in these pages the 
genesis of the game in Chicago will be discussed 
at some length as it has a direct bearing on the 
later activities of the man who grew up with the 
modern game and who probably has done more 
than any other to put it on a firm footing. Fate 
decreed that Comiskey should first see light at 
Union and Maxwell streets, in the greatest base- 
ball city on earth. He had the advantage of 
growing up in a section of the country that 
afforded its " future greats " plenty of elbow 
room, eventually enough for nearly 1,000 teams, 
amateur, semipro and full blown professional. 

Alfred H. Spink, author of " The National 
Game," a valuable treatise on the sport, contends 
that " next to New York, Chicago is the greatest 
baseball city in America," Mr. Spink, who was 

16 " Commy " 

bom in Chicago and who became a citizen of 
St. Louis by adoption, may be pardoned for his 
impartial but debatable assertion, as Gotham 
seems to have had the edge on the city by the 
Lake in the length of its baseball history. 

Charles A. Comiskey, however, is also a Chi- 
cagoan by birth. He has been a temporary so- 
journer in the Mound City, in New York, and in 
fact, in most every other city and hamlet, in and 
out of the country, where baseball has been 
played. The " Old Roman " is not given to 
extravagant speech and his opinion should have 
some weight. He says : 

Chicago is the greatest of all baseball 
cities. I make no exception although I have 
been treated well wherever I have been. It 
is the greatest city because the fans will . 
stick to a loser season after season. I have 
had my share of defeats so I should know. 
Boston and St. Louis come next; in fact I 
believe I would give the palm to the latter, 
as the fans in Boston have shown themselves 
slightly mercurial. 

A winner in New York is apt to wear out 
the turnstiles but the " average " crowd is 
not up to the standard with a loser. At 
home here my team ha^s played to 12,000 

Comiskey at the opening of his $1,000,000 baseball park in 1910. 

Baseball or Bricks 17 

and 15,000 on a weekday .with the club in the 
second division. That is the test of loyalty. 

It may be surmised that Chicago was loyal 
from the start but historians are a little hazy 
as to what actually happened in the early days. 
A team called the " Unions " played town ball 
somewhere on the prairies as far back as 1856. 
In 1859 the Excelsiors break into print in " The 
Spirit of the Times," published in New York. 
A communication from Chicago, dated May 1, 
states : 

The baseball clubs of this city are in 
active . preparation for their . season, which 
promises to be a lively one. There are 
three or four clubs here. The Excelsiors is 
the most prominent one, and is one of the 
pioneer clubs, having been in existence for a 
year or more. It was the first club to adopt 
the new style game played under the rules 
and regulations of the National Association 
(organized in New York, 1857) known as 
the New York game. The Excelsiors make a 
nice appearance on the ball field in their 
new uniforms, which consist of long white 
pants and white shirts made of English 
flannel. Their practice days are Tuesday 
and Friday. 

18 "Commy" 

This was the modest beginning of baseball 
journalism as practiced three months before 
" Commy " first saw light. Fifty-eight years 
later the wires from New York carried into a 
single Chicago newspaper office on a single night 
20,000 words on how the Chicago White Sox 
defeated the Giants for the World's Baseball 

The Civil War put a quietus to baseball in 
Chicago as it did the country over, and it was 
not until 1865 that the game again began to 
show signs of life. Then a new Excelsior team 
was put in the field with the Atlantics as their 
strongest rivals. After trimming each other 
and mowing down less pretentious opponents 
three years were spent in strengthening these 
teams, unconscious of the need Chicago would 
have of them in repelling a coming invasion by 
the Cincinnati Red Stockings. 

The Bed Stockings were out-and-out profes- 
sionals. The Excelsiors and Atlantics were ama- 
teurs. Taking on the Excelsiors first, June 21, 
1868, the Beds tumbled the Chicagoans 43 tto 
22 and on the following day the Atlantics fell 
28 to 9. 

The defeats were most important to baseball 
in Chicago as they served to bring to the front 
the original White Stockings, predecessors of 

Baseball or Bricks 19 

the White Sox today, in name at least. The 
team was organized in the fall of 1869 for the 
purpose of putting the city on the baseball map. 
In reality it was built to take the measure of the 
Red Stockings, who had just finished the season 
without losing a game, a record which never has 
been equaled. 

After the Reds' visit in 1868 baseball in 
Chicago boomed as never before and teams 
sprang up like mushrooms. Diamonds girdled 
the city, the limits of which were not as far- 
flung in those days as at present, being marked 
on the north by Division street, on the south by 
Twelfth, with the " farthest West " at the inter- 
section of Ogden avenue and Madison street. 
The city boasted of only one enclosed field but 
these were the days of real sport and " future 
greats " were far more contented among the tin 
cans around Bull's Head Tavern than are the 
" fifteen thousand dollar beauties " arrayed in 
championship raiment. 

Among the teams which battled on the West 
Side prairies at the time the curtain was rising 
on the pastime were the Libertys, Actives, 
Mutuals and Neversweats. The principal team 
on the North Side was the Atlantics which later 
became known as the Aetnas and which wound 
up as the Franklins. The Pastimes were con- 

20 " Commy " 

sidered the class of the South Side while the 
future loop district sheltered the Excelsiors. 

The survival of the fittest being the law of 
the prairies, certain teams with the best backing 
in bone and muscle finally gravitated towards 
fixed spots and thus we find in the late Sixties 
the Actives established at Lake and Ada streets, 
the Libertys at Madison and Western, the 
Mutuals at Van Buren and Leavitt streets and 
the Pastimes at South Chicago. 

At this period there also appeared upon the 
scene the Dreadnaughts, who did not belie their 
name as they nearly made a clean sweep of 
opposing teams. The pitching prowess of 
" Cherokee " Fisher, an importation from the 
East, and the skill of Ole Olson at first base 
were mainly responsible for a long list of Dread- 
naught victories. 

Great players graduated from these rough 
diamonds and not a few attained national fame. 
From the Aetnas came such stars as Jack Car- 
bine, first baseman of the Louisville National 
League team; Jimmy Hallinan, short stop of the 
original White Stockings; Paddy Quinn, one of 
the first receivers to catch close up to the batter 
without mask or gloves; Hughey Eeid, a noted 
Chicago pitcher; Paddy Lynch, great first base- 
man, and Graves, a star fielder. 

Baseball or Bricks 21 

The Foley Brothers, Tom, John, Charles and 
William, with the Actives, were all sterling 
players; Mike Brennock, W. B. Lapham and 
McClelland, were others. Em Gross, who later 
became the catcher on the champion Providence 
team, was with the Pastimes as was Bill Phillips, 
later star first sacker on Cleveland's crack team. 

The Libertys turned out such players as Ike 
Fleming, a corking catcher in his days and, 
incidentally Comiskey's first manager; Mike 
Hayes, noted pitcher; the O'Day Brothers, Dan, 
James and Henry, the latter " Hank " of the 
National League umpire staff, the dean of his 
profession. The name " O'Day," however, is 
not to be found in the early lineups. It was 
plain " Day," the excision of the " " being 
due to the elder 'Day's opinion of the game, 
which coincided with that entertained by Alder- 
man Comiskey. 

Individual objections to the " frivolous pas- 
time " did not, however, prevent the organiza- 
tion of the White Stockings, who were backed 
by business men prominent in the city's affairs. 
Native talent had predominated in the lineups of 
the Excelsiors and the Atlantics and their 
defeats by the Reds had been a distinct blow to 
local pride. After the Eed Stockings of 1869 
had swept the country from Frisco to New York, 

22 " Commy " 

the exigencies of the occasion demanded heroic 
measures and sentimental considerations were 
thrown into the discard. The country was 
combed for players and this team resulted: 

William H. Graver, catcher; Levi Meyerle, 
Edward Pinkham and Tom Burns, pitchers; 
James McAtee, first base; Jimmy Wood, second 
base; Meyerle, third base; Charley Hodes, short 
stop; Edgar Cuthbert, left field; Fred Treacy, 
center; and Clipper Flynn, right field. 

After much strategy on both sides the two 
teams were matched and clashed at Dexter Park, 
September 7, 1870, a memorable occasion in 
the baseball annals of Chicago. Opposed to the 
White Stockings were this galaxy of Red Stock- 
ing stars, perhaps the greatest collection of 
players which the country had seen up to that 

Asa Brainard, pitcher; Douglas Allison, 
catcher; Charles Gould, first base; Charles 
Sweasy, second base; George Wright, short 
stop; Fred Waterman, third base; Andrew 
Leonard, left; Harry Wright, captain and cen- 
ter, and Calvan McVey, right field. Richard 
Hurley was the substitute. 

As of historical interest it might be pointed 
out that the salaries ranged from $1,400 to $800. 
George Wright received the former figure. His 

Baseball or Bricks 23 

brother Harry was in receipt of $200 less. 

The chronicler of the day indulged in gladia- 
torial similes, and judging from all accounts, 
everybody got his money's worth. The score, 
10 to 6 in favor of the White Stockings, was 
considered close enough to call for another 
game and the Reds returned on October 13 for 
one more drubbing, this time 16 to 13. The 
historian had this to say about the teams: 

No finer looking teams have ever taken the 
field than were these two. Every player of 
each team was in perfect condition. Dis- 
cipline and good order were in evidence, 
too, the men appearing in clean and showy 

The Chicagos wore white flannel caps, 
shirts and stockings and blue trousers while 
the Cincinnati boys were dressed in white 
shirts and trousers with red caps and stock- 
ings. Each and every player seemed to be 
in the very pink of condition and each of the 
two games was magnificently played and 

The fact that ropes had to be stretched around 
the field was ample proof that Chicago was 
taking to the game. The civic spirit manifested 
in the backing of the victors left no doubt in 

24 " Commy " 

the minds of the critics that the White Stockings 
had located in the right town. Taking into con- 
sideration the handicaps under which the 
" avengers " labored they made a good start 
towards advertising the future motto of Chi- 
cago. They had no grounds to practice on in 
the spring of 1870 and it was not until 1871 
that they found a home, Chicago's first league 
grounds being located at the foot of Lake street, 
east of Michigan avenue. 

In the meantime the White Stockings had 
joined the National Association of Professional 
Baseball Players, finishing third among the clubs 
left at the end of the season of 1871. In the fall 
of that year came the great fire and it was cur- 
tains for the game until 1874 when the league 
was again honored by a White Stocking team 
with a fifth place berth at the close. In 1875, 
the last year of the association, they were sixth. 
Promotion was rapid after that, as in the fol- 
lowing year the National League was organized 
and Chicago took its rightful place among the 
great in the baseball world. 



The spirit of the West ' ' Revolving ' ' becomes 
popular "Honest John" Comiskey Cobwebs 
on plumber's tools Story of 10 per cent and a 
$15,000 gate Comiskey becomes a ' ' regular ' ' 
Baseball and books Ted Sullivan makes a dis- 

Up to 1871 Chicago had conducted a defensive 
campaign in baseball. Few teams went outside 
the city limits, although, then as now, they were 
ready to meet all comers. Local pride dictated 
the strength of the teams and it is not on record 
that a single combination was organized for 
show. There was no such silk-stockinged aggre- 
gation as the Knickerbockers of New York, 
whose prominence was accentuated more by 
gastronomic performances than by feats on the 
ball field. 

There is no intention to cast a slur on the 
old " Knicks " as they did their part in laying 
the foundation for our national sport, yet, there 
was a vast difference, in the early days, between 
baseball in New York and Chicago. The social 


26 " Commy " 

side had equal or greater weight than the play- 
ing end in the East while in the West it was all 
11 the game." On Chicago's fields, from the 
waving prairies on the west to the lake, from 
the morasses on the south to the wild-woods on 
the north, all were equal, once in baseball uni- 
form. There was no distinction on account of 
birth and breeding, and that spirit prevailed, to a 
large extent, in the entire territory west of the 
Alleghanies. Batting and fielding averages alone 
decided the fitness of the plumber and the dandy. 
This made the transition from amateurism to 
professionalism open and above board as against 
the complaisant attitude of the East where semi- 
professionals and out and out " pros " mas- 
queraded as amateurs, to the detriment of the 

The Cincinnati Red Stockings made the effete 
East blush when their pay checks were made 
public property. So ingrained was the amateur 
idea, even up to the late Sixties, that the 
Nationals of Washington insisted on waving 
aside all gate receipts during their memorable 
trip in 1867. Still, promising players were 
offered lucrative positions, both privately and 
with the government, could they but see their 
way clear to join the invincible team of the 
nation's capital. 

The Game Becomes a Business 27 

In Chicago, however, the question of amateurs 
and professionals was never raised. For several 
years there was no chance to be anything else 
than the former as the receipts collected on un- 
enclosed fields were not enough to defray the 
expenses to and from the games. When neces- 
sity arose the city went out and bought a winner 
openly, instead of surreptitiously, as was the 
fashion elsewhere and, with the organization of 
the White Stockings, baseball in Chicago flour- 
ished as a " business,'* a calling as honorable 
as any of the other professions. 

Certain purists might regret that, as a national 
sport, it did not follow the lines of cricket in 
England, where professionalism was and is 
subordinated to amateurism, in theory if not 
actually. Early promoters of the game held that 
it always would retain its amateur status but 
they failed to take into account the human 
equation, the spirit of rivalry which it engen- 
dered and the will to excel. Had it remained 
only a healthgiving pastime and had it never 
functioned as an amusement these hopes might 
have been realized. 

Thriving on competition, the sport drew to 
itself the red-blooded youth of the land, because 
it not only served as an outlet to physical 
exuberance but it was the nearest approach to 

28 " Commy " 

" peacetime war >; which, in turn, was trans- 
lated into victories and defeats. As the average 
American is a hard loser, rivalry increased wher- 
ever a ball was put into play. The basic prin- 
ciple of the game being centered in decisions it 
was but natural that both sides should strain 
every nerve to win. The defeated team would 
naturally scour its own neighborhood, after a 
losing battle, for talent to strengthen its attack. 
The victors of to-day would, in turn, become 
the losers of to-morrow and the recruiting would 
continue until the time when one or the other 
had combed the vicinity clean or, by a succession 
of victories, would have arrogated to itself un- 
disputed mastery on the village diamond. 

As the circle increased in size, and the exigen- 
cies of the occasion demanded, offers to exchange 
allegiance became more tempting. A bag of 
marbles, a share in the " swag," or any other 
bait may have marked the crossing of the line 
but whatever the lure, the player had become a 
professional, in theory at least. It was then up 
to the ethically inclined to draw the distinction 
between the boy whose remuneration had been 
extracted from the community treasure house 
and the man who succumbed to a $5,000 contract. 

The " revolving " of players, as it was called 
in the early days of the game, was perfectly 

The Game Becomes a Business 29 

natural and, without it, the game probably never 
would have become national. It was necessary 
to its development but it was death to amateur- 
ism. There may be some consolation in the fact 
that from the ashes of the latter rose the only 
simon-pure national professional game a pas- 
time which has stood the test of time and which 
is to-day the squarest sport on earth. 

The great majority of teams in the west 
were, of course, amateur both from choice and 
necessity from choice because possibly they 
could afford it; from necessity because of the 
lack of a " gate." Professionalism carried with 
it no disgrace as it did in most of the eastern 
centers, and the west, as soon as the game had 
become solidly organized, made baseball a real 
profession, with no stigma attached to its prac- 

As late as 1871 and, after the Cincinnati Red 
Stockings had popularized the professional end 
of the sport, Harry Wright, the former leader of 
this peerless aggregation, went to Boston to 
organize a regular league team. Such was the 
prejudice against " pros " that Wright did not 
dare to openly announce his intentions of having 
none but paid members on the roster. Instead, 
the subterfuge of the counting room, the railroad 
office and the political berth w T as resorted to. 

30 " Commy " 

The fallacy and hypocrisy of this procedure was 
pointed out to the progressive manager and he 
abandoned the experiment and, with some mis- 
givings, boldly announced the signing of a team 
to play ball. The Hub fans took kindly to the 
innovation and in time the rest of the seaboard 
fell in line. 

In Chicago substantial business men tagged 
the professional game with respectability by the 
universal backing of the White Stockings. The 
city dug into its jeans for the money necessary 
to build a team that could take the measure of 
the Bed Stockings and it has adhered to this 
effective method ever since. Win or lose, any 
combination with a Chicago emblem has been 
supported as in no other city in the country. 
This spirit naturally had its influence on the 
youth and contributed not a little to the reputa- 
tion which the sport has enjoyed since the first 
ball bounded over the virgin soil. 

It was into such an atmosphere that the wil- 
lowy youth, hailing from the neighborhood of 
Union and Maxwell streets, was ushered in the 
early Seventies. In the same wholesome sur- 
roundings he is rounding out his wonderful 
career. To the average business man, engrossed 
with the affairs of his particular calling, the 
gradual steps from batboy to president and 

The Game Becomes a Business. 31 

owner of world's champions may not in them- 
selves seem unusual in this age of super-achieve- 
ments but to the millions of fans who have 
followed the fortunes of Charles A. Comiskey 
they have a world of meaning. Within the 
period of " Cominy's " manhood is embraced 
the complete development of the marvelous game 
in which he is one of the most commanding fig- 
ures and the services rendered to the sport by 
him have been equaled by few and surpassed 
by no one. 

Comiskey 's influence on the game surpassed 
his actual accomplishments, important as these 
were, especially from the time he took charge of 
the old St. Louis Erowns to the present, a period 
of 35 years. From the bat-toting days of '69 
down to the swivel chair stage of 1919 his life 
has been an open book to the millions who have 
perused the pages of the daily press. During 
all that time the finger of suspicion never has 
been pointed in his direction. 

What is even more remarkable, considering 
the fact that " Commy " has figured in pub- 
lic print for well over a third of a century, he has 
yet to make a request for a " retraction." To 
anyone versed in the intricacies of newspaper 
reporting and the numberless controversies 
which our national sport develops this record 

32 " Commy " 

of the player-magnate is unique. Add to this 
the fact that the esteem of his fellow players, 
managers and owners is as great as that enter- 
tained by the army of fans, and the distinction 
is complete. 

The superlatives which might be applicable to 
his later years have, so far as is known, no 
place in the description of " Commy 's ' ' boy- 
hood days. 

Young Comiskey was just like any other young- 
ster who had to be useful around the house, 
However, he developed strategy early, an attri- 
bute called into requisition in order that he 
might satisfy his craving for outdoor sports. 
His father, John Comiskey, was of that type of 
man who abhorred idleness and frowned on play. 
He insisted that work and education were the 
prime requisites to success and he decided that 
his children there were seven boys and one 
girl should have both. 

The elder Comiskey came from a sturdy stock. 
In rectitude and sternness he might have felt at 
home among the Puritans of New England had 
his forebears been from any other spot than 
County Cavan, Ireland. The following is a pen 
picture of him furnished by Henry F. Donovan, 
editor and publisher of Chicago, who knew him 

S j^fggj* vH 

Comiskey as manager and first-baseman of the 
St. Louis Browns. 

The Game Becomes a Business 33 

John Comiskey, the father of the popular 
baseball king, Charles A. Comiskey, was 
for many years one of Chicago's leading 
citizens, and one of the men who helped to 
make Chicago great. John Comiskey was the 
first president of the city council of Chicago 
under the old city charter which provided for 
that office. For eleven years he was an alder- 
man and a useful and honored one. He was 
first elected in 1859 from the old Tenth 
ward, still representing it when its num- 
ber was changed to the Seventh and still 
its representative when it became the Eighth. 
This ward was one of the most respectable 
in the city and was peopled by the flower 
of the Irish race in America. Mr. Comiskey 
was a great representative for it and was 
honored by all classes. He was courtly in 
manner, eloquent in speech, honest and 
aggressive in all things, and always a gentle- 

John Comiskey was born in Crosserlough, 
County Cavan, Ireland, and came to Amer- 
ica in 1848, settling in New Haven, Connec- 
ticut, where he went into the lumber busi- 
ness. Not pleased with the East and its 
opportunities, he came to Chicago in 1852 
and for a time had charge of the incoming 

34 " Commy " 

freight on the Chicago, Rock Island and 
Pacific Railroad. He afterwards became 
superintendent of shipments at the Pitts- 
burgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago cattle 
yards in Chicago the Union Stock Yards 
not then being in existence. 

He was deputy United States internal 
revenue collector under President Andrew 
Johnson and was clerk of the Cook County 
Board for several years. 

Although living in the " easy " age of poli- 
tics when brown stone fronts usually followed a 
few years in office, he died in 1900, the year 
that his son put an American League team into 
Chicago, in the same modest dwelling in which 
he had spent his life. 

Unlike his son the father considered the West 
Side as the center of Chicago and there he married 
Miss Annie Kearns of Albany, New York, in 1852. 
Of the family of eight Charles was the third, 
a favorite of the mother whom he remembers as 
ever ready to take his part when chided by the 
father for his unseemly attachment to the " friv- 
olous " game the boys were playing on the lots. 

Although the elder Comiskey was willing and 
anxious to give his children an education he 
was also insistent on a trade. He argued that 

The Game Becomes a Business 35 

the former might become a liability but there 
could be no question of a handicraft being an 
asset. Thus the future owner of champions 
was first set to massage lead pipes under the 
eye of one Hogan, who rejoiced in the title of 
" master plumber." 

This arrangement worked well enough in 
the winter when the snow was on the ground 
but with the first sign of spring the cobwebs 
settled on the plumber's tools. As these accu- 
mulated Comiskey senior decided to give his 
offspring a front seat on the brickwagon where 
we have already discovered him, as he deserted 
it for the diamond. His trait of making up his 
mind on the instant cropped out then as it did 
years later. 

In the spring of 1917 Comiskey sat at the 
dinner table in the Rice Hotel at Houston, 
Texas. It was shortly before the United States 
declared war on Germany but at a time when 
the country expected the momentous decision to 
be taken. I laid a telegram from the editor of 
the Chicago newspaper, with which I was con- 
nected, before him. It read: 

11 Please ask Mr. Comiskey if he will donate 
10 percent of his gate receipts to the American 
Bed Cross." 

The " Old Roman " fumbled for his glasses 

36 " Commy " 

a moment, couldn't find them, and said: " What 
is it all about? " 

He was told and after a pause of, perhaps, 
fifteen seconds, replied: " Tell the editor that 
it will be a pleasure to give the money. But is 
10 per cent enough? I don't think it is. I owe 
my country everything I have and it can call 
on me for every cent I possess. To offer all is 
the least we can do, we who are too old to go 
to the front, should that become necessary." 

After the answer had been formulated he 
tapped his fingers on the table for an instant 
and a shade of disappointment came over his 
face as he remarked : ' ' I should have thought 
about that myself." 

A similar incident occurred during the play- 
ing season in 1918. The Chicago women in 
charge of entertainment of soldiers and sailors 
needed a hostess' house in Grant Park. They 
went to B. B. Johnson, president of the Amer- 
ican League, who put the matter in my hands. 
Knowing that Mr. Comiskey was being 
" touched " for every kind of charity I hesitated 
when the suggestion was made that I " see 
what Mr. Comiskey could do." However, I 
went and he was asked to donate a percentage 
of the gate receipts of a Chicago-Cleveland 

The Game Becomes a Business 37 

As at Houston, the canvasser was floored 
when, as soon as the owner of the Sox had 
found out what it was for, he said: 

" A percentage is not enough. You must 
have my entire share of the gate receipts and 
I will try to make it a big day." 

With the co-operation of James C. Dunn, 
owner of the Cleveland team, and a sportsman 
of the Comiskey type, $15,000 was realized. 

On that summer evening in 1876 it was more 
of a momentous decision that " Commy " made 
than parting with the gate receipts two score 
years later. A career was at stake. Perhaps he 
did not appreciate that it was for life, but it would 
have made no difference. After he had made 
up his mind, it was settled, and, as he fondly 
hoped, his good right arm would see him 
through. He did not figure on that kink in 
his throwing " wing "' which developed in a 
couple of years. 

He was seventeen years of age at the time and, 
except at brief intervals, the cottage on Union 
and Maxwell streets saw him no more. He cut 
home ties for good in 1877 even though he was 
hazy in his mind as to the next move, but hav- 
ing specialized in the national game, to base- 
ball he turned. 

He had achieved the distinction of being 

38 " Commy " 

change pitcher for the Libertys, a team which 
was cutting wide swaths on the prairie dia- 
monds. Perhaps, like other boys of his age, 
he conjured up his triumphal return to the old 
homestead and the deference to be paid him by 
the *' cop " on the beat, who had chased him off 
proscribed lots after an unlucky foul through 
a neighbor's window had terminated the game. 
Possibly, he even cogitated on the chance of con- 
verting the " old man " to the sport, but he 
must have had his doubts about this as the inci- 
dent connected with his try-out was still fresh 
in his mind. 

" Commy 's " debut as a " regular " followed 
shortly after he had clamped on the brakes on 
the wagon in Jackson street. After several 
overtures he had been given a trial on the 
Libertys, whose manager, Ike Fleming, had 
decided that he would do as a pitcher. The 
Libertys had arranged to meet the Franklin 
team, another strong amateur combination. It 
was with many misgivings that Comiskey went 
into the box, but the score of 2 to 1 in favor 
of the Libertys confirmed him in his belief that, 
perhaps, he could make a living at something 
else besides swinging the curry comb. 

This game, Comiskey 's first regular contest, 
was played in Lincoln Park. On the team 

The Game Becomes a Business 39 

which backed up the youthful pitcher were 
William Healy, catcher and later alderman; Ike 
Fleming, manager and first base and still in 
the newspaper business as he was then; William 
McGrady, second base, for many years con- 
nected with the Cook County treasurer's office; 
Johnny Fitzgibbons, third base; George Eddy, 
of Eddy's Foundry Company, short stop; Dan 
O'Day, Charles McGrady and Mike Hayes, out- 

Professionalism had thrived for several years 
in Chicago, but young Comiskey did not dare 
to aspire to a place on the crack teams, which 
now included the first Chicago National League 
team, an aggregation which was to win the 
initial championship of the parent organization, 
and one from which he was later to wrest the 
world's title. Through a knot hole in the 
fence he watched such artists as Spalding, An- 
son, White, McVey, Hines, Barnes and others 
and decided that he didn't " belong," but would 
seek an opening with less pretentious company. 

From the time he was in short trousers at St. 
Ignatius College " Commy " had combined the 
art of pitching with the more abstruse problems 
in mathematics and kindred studies so, when 
he was promoted to St. Mary's College in Kan- 
sas, he had arrived at that stage where the 

40 " Commy " 

college director considered him good enough 
to lead the freshman team as captain. His 
older brother Jim was catcher on another nine 
at school while he himself frequently took his 
turn behind the batter. 

One Ted Sullivan seems to have cut the big- 
gest swath on the St. Mary's grounds, the Ted 
who later in life became the greatest organizer 
of baseball clubs and leagues in the history of 
the game. Ted was shortstop and occasionally 
took a fling at pitching. When Ted was pitch- 
ing he wanted Charles as battery mate. 

11 I picked out Comiskey," related Ted, " be- 
cause I considered him the smartest kid on the 
teams. One incident will show how quickly, 
even in those days, he grasped an opportunity. 
I noticed that a runner on third was taking a 
rather big lead. Comiskey signalled for a cer- 
tain ball. I shook my head. He signalled for 
another and I repeated. Finally I left the box, 
all the time upbraiding him because of his bone- 
head strategy. He never said a word but met 
me half way, and still bawling him out I slipped 
him the ball while I returned to the mound. 

" All set behind the bat and Comiskey whipped 
the ball to third nailing the runner by ten feet. 
I did not tell him what to do. I simply wanted 
to find out if he could think for himself. From 

The Game Becomes a Business 41 

that time on I began to have respect for Charles, 
and he was only a kid at that." 

The admiration seems to have been mutual 
and the acquaintance formed had important con- 
sequences for baseball. 

In due time Comiskey was transferred to the 
Christian Brothers College at Prairie du Chien, 
where, in the opinion of Comiskey senior, the 
opportunity for studying baseball was on a less 
extensive scale. 



What became of Sir Thomas Shaughnessy 's $50 
Comiskey enters on a career of speed The ' ' cop ' ' 
and the pass New wrinkles in slides He shows 
the world how to play first base Helps to win a 
pennant Appears at Sportsman 's Park ' ' He 
will do " is verdict. 

After the Comiskey family council Charles 
remembered Ted and turned to him for advice. 
Sullivan at this time was the manager of the 
Alerts in Milwaukee, his native city. Ted needed 
a pitcher and Comiskey was engaged. The man 
who furnished the money for the uniforms and 
equipment was Thomas Gr. Shaughnessy, now 
Sir Thomas, former president of the Canadian 
Pacific Railroad and during the war, purchasing 
agent for the British government. 

There was a wooden fence around the Alerts' 
grounds but a hole on one side made a free gate 
to anyone who cared to enter. Sullivan's plead- 
ings moved the backer of the team to contribute 
$50 for lumber. Some time later, the hole being 
still there, Shaughnessy accosted the manager. 


That Hole in the Fence 43 

" Why, the $50 you gave me," said the urbane 
Ted, " I handed to that lanky pitcher over 
there. He needed the money as much as I 
needed his services and, besides, Charles Comis- 
key is a friend of mine." 

Shaughnessey watched the curves which the 
young man handed up and allowed that the 
manager had been wise in his choice. He jotted 
down $50 for ' ' general expenses ' ' the Alerts 
being an amateur team, salary couldn't figure 
in the account. 

" That $50 for a month's work was really the 
first money I ever earned as a ball player," 
said Comiskey, in relating the incident. As 
he was talking he thumbed a check book on his 
desk, the stub from one- showing that he had 
paid a certain player now on the White Sox 
team at the rate of $83 a day or $33 more than 
the " Old Roman " received for a month's work. 

With the advent of winter Comiskey buckled 
down to a useful trade but on the coming of 
spring he said good-bye, to return as the undis- 
puted head of his own house. He moved to Elgin 
to become the pitcher on the watch factory team. 
At Milwaukee his success had been only mediocre 
as Sullivan was unable to find a catcher who 
could hold him. To guard against this con- 
tingency he took his own battery mate, Eudolph 

44 " Commy " 

Kemmler, to Elgin with him, and such was the 
pitching of Comiskey and the backing he re- 
ceived that the watch factory team did not lose 
a single game, a record which, in a small way, 
matched that of the Eed Stockings eight years 

Although Comiskey, during many a season, 
failed to get the requisite speed out of his ball 
club, he himself started at a pace which few 
were able to follow. He doted on speed. To 
his way of thinking, no pitcher could show 
enough of it, while his catchers insisted that he 
had entirely too much. It was the same on the 
bases. With his team behind, the runners all 
looked like ice wagons to the peppery youth 
from Chicago. If in the lead he expected every- 
body to practice sprinting for the next game. 
He was a glutton for totals. Never was the 
score big enough. He could always show after 
the game that they should have had another 
tally or two and, to his way of thinking, players 
were on the field to run up the score. 

That Comiskey never let up in his pace 
either on or off the ball field, can be corroborated 
by a crossing policeman on Michigan avenue, 
at Thirty-fifth street in Chicago. Here is where 
" Commy " usually turns to go to his ball park. 

The boss of the White Sox had known the 

That Hole in the Fence 45 

" cop " for years and annually presented him 
with a season pass to the games. The fact that 
" Commy's " chauffeur was in the habit of tak- 
ing the corner on two wheels had nothing to do 
with it, but at length Casey began to have his 
doubts. Flagging the hurrying magnate one 
day the policeman apologetically approached the 
auto and delivered this ultimatum: 

" Mr. Comiskey, if you don't slow up on my 
beat I will have to give you back my pass." 

Being unable to take a trimming with equa- 
nimity, " Commy " early acquired the reputation 
of being the hardest loser wherever he appeared. 
He fought fairly, but he never could get it 
out of his head that Fate had picked out the 
other side for the doormat. Providence, he 
figured, was always on his own side, but he also 
made it a rule to be helpful in presenting the 
strongest lineup and, if this was not feasible, 
to take advantage of every weakness of the 

As a kid pitcher Comiskey depended on speed. 
Later he added an effective out-curve, a ball 
hard to hit, according to his contemporaries. 
Using an underhand delivery his height did 
not give him that assistance which it does to 
the overthrow, but there was no question about 
his effectiveness. He had the batter under his 

46 " Commy " 

thumb most of the time and no slugger faced 
him the second time but he knew what to feed 

There has been a difference of opinion whether 
" Commy " classed among the really great pitch- 
ers. He himself says that his arm gave out 
before he had a chance to find out. Those who 
played with him claim that the fact that he 
seldom could get a backstop to hold him in- 
fluenced .him to quit the box before his time. 
One thing is certain. Regardless of the condi- 
tion of his salary wing his head would have 
made it a fifty-fifty proposition for the batter 
for some years. 

Being a pitcher he could not be expected to 
lead the batting order, but at that he was usually 
placed pretty close to the top. He was no Tip 
O'Neill in slugging, but no pitcher took liberties 
with him the second time. He seldom put the 
ball over the fence, but instead devoted his 
energies to getting the twirler in a hole. Pinch 
hitting was his long suit. 

Not having time to develop on the pitcher's 
mound, it was his work on the bases and in 
fielding which became distinctive. He was fast 
on his feet but he could hardly be regarded 
as a " ten second man." Yet there were few 
who had the art of base-stealing down to a 

That Hole in the Fence 47 

finer science. Getting on, he was a runner not 
to be trifled with. If the chances were even 
he was certain to advance a base or two. If 
they were less he was smart enough to wait 
for the inevitable break. 

It was risky to slide in the early days of the 
game on any except the best kept diamonds. 
Feet first and it might mean a broken leg or a 
twisted ankle. Head first and it was " raw 
meat " from the shoulders to the hips. With 
Comiskey it was the latter and many give him 
the credit of originating the trick. Bill Gleason 
the ' ' Bill ' ' of the Browns writes that he 
had never seen anyone go head first before 
Comiskey came along and taught this particular 
" hook " to the boys. 

" I started sliding head first," Comiskey 
explained years after his first stolen base, 
" because I figured that to be the most advan- 
tageous way of getting a close decision. It 
is true that as the game developed, the greater 
number of players went feet first into the bag, 
but this is risky in more ways than one, even 
though it is more comfortable than the other. 
It sometimes means a broken leg, and in any 
case the runner is unable to see the bag. Of 
course, combining the phenomenal skill and the 
extreme speed of a Ty Cobb, the feet first slide 

48 " Commy " 

has certain advantages, but for all-around effi- 
ciency the head slide, in my estimation, has the 
shade. The runner knows where he is going, 
he can watch the movements of the fielder and 
his arms have the edge over the legs in reaching 
for the bag." 

Is the " hook " slide a modern innovation? 
Comiskey says it is not. As evidence he cites 
the fact that several of the old Browns used it. 
Then he calls to mind the Kelly " spread." 

rpjjg < hook slide ' is simply physical skill 
combined with head work," says Comiskey. " As 
we couldn't depend on substitutes to do either 
our work or our thinking in the old days we 
had to figure out certain things for ourselves. 
The slide was one. I don't think we called it a 
' hook,' but it amounted to the same thing. Any- 
how, the ' Kelly spread ' was as effective and 
differed little from the hook. Anyone who 
aspired to be known as a base-runner used it. 
Among the stars who used it were Welch and 
Latham of the Browns and Kelly and William- 
son of Anson's team. 

" Welch slid into a bag either way as, in fact, 
did most of the crack runners in my day. We 
only varied the performance as the bruises on 
our bodies dictated. It was much like broiling 
a steak. If rare on one side, turn it over. It 

That Hole in the Fence 49 

was before fancy sliding pads had been invented 
and I want to bear testimony to the fact that 
the runways were no softer than they are now." 

How Comiskey revolutionized the playing 
around first base, and how the rule makers were 
compelled to fortify themselves by a new code 
in order to keep the baseball structure from 
falling apart, as well as other developments, 
will be discussed in that portion of the story 
devoted to the Browns. The traits which he 
exhibited as a youngster, however, stuck, and 
if his playing in later years showed any marked 
difference, it was only in its application to 
changed conditions. His initiative, dash, quick 
thinking, grasp of details, inventiveness and 
clearness of vision were as conspicuous on the 
prairies as on the major league diamonds. 

The future owner of the White Sox stepped 
into his first uniform in 1875 but his real base- 
ball education did not begin until 1878, the year 
he came regularly under the eye of Ted Sullivan. 
The latter had moved to Dubuque, Iowa, in order 
to take charge of a news agency, but after he 
got this into working order his thoughts went 
to baseball. 

Comiskey, being a free lance both as regards 
baseball and trade, Sullivan had no trouble in 
persuading his former school-mate to become a 

56 " Commy " 

citizen of the Iowa town, the ambitious organ- 
izer offering him $50 a month during the sum- 
mer for playing ball and 20 per cent commission 
for supplying travelers on the Illinois Central 
Railroad with reading material and confections 
during his spare time. Combined, this being a 
considerable advance over the inducements 
offered by Hogan, master plumber, it was 
accepted and Comiskey became a " leaguer." 

Sullivan, in the intervals needed to check up 
on his train crews, took time not only to get 
together the Dubuque team, but also to organ- 
ize the Northwestern League, the first minor 
league in the country to finish a season. He 
had the backing of the late Senator Allison and 
Congressman D. B. Henderson in this project, 
the latter at one time speaker of the House of 

There was no clause in the contract of the 
19-year-old player about pitching twice a week 
or any such modern innovation, but he was 
expected to prove himself useful at first, second, 
third and in the outfield, as occasion demanded, 
besides taking his turn on the mound. The all- 
around job fitted in with the remark he made 
later in discussing the Browns when, explain- 
ing the dearth of substitutes in that world- 
famous combination, he said: 

That Hole in the Fence 51 

" Sometimes we had ten and, occasionally as 
many as twelve men on the team, but if the 
manager put a player on the bench in those 
days, he made an enemy for life.'* 

The toam which Sullivan put together in 1878 
was a good one but it was greatly improved in 
'79. Ted then made his first swing around the 
circuit and picked up Thomas J. Sullivan, a St. 
Louis boy, who had made good as a catcher 
with the Worcester team; L, P. Reis, pitcher for 
the Chicagos the preceding year; W. B. Lapham, 
first baseman of the Worcesters; Charles Rad- 
bourne, of Bloomington, Illinois, a fielder and 
utility pitcher; while the home talent consisted 
of William Gleason, third base, and J. Ross, 
right fielder. Ted himself ranked as infielder 
and pitcher while Comiskey was pitcher, in- or 
outfielder, as opportunities presented them- 

They were no ordinary players, these more or 
less " unknowns " who broke into the headlines 
of the Dubuque papers for the first time. Rad- 
bourne, for instance, became one of the greatest, 
if not the premier pitcher of all time; William 
Gleason added to his fame as short fielder for 
the Browns; Tom Loftus not only developed 
into a wonderful second baseman but made an 
enviable record as manager and owner later in 

52 " Commy " 

life; Sullivan became the organizer, par excel- 
lence, and as for Comiskey, he outshone and 
outlasted all the rest. 

The league, which consisted of Dubuque, Rock- 
ford, Omaha and Davenport, brought out many 
other stars. Rockford had Jack and David 
Rowe, pitchers; Goodman, first; George Creamer, 
second; Redmond, short. The incomparable 
Biddy McPhee played on the Davenport team, 
while Jim Whitney and W. D. Cantillon, the 
later to become general manager of the Chicago 
and Northwestern Railroad, entertained the 
Omaha fans. 

Sullivan's aggregation won the championship 
but proved a financial failure, and the manager 
decided that a free lance combination would be 
less risky, and in 1880 the semi-professional 
Dubuque Rabbits succeeded the title holders. 
It would be well to remember these Rabbits, 
for on this team appeared Charles Comiskey 
as a regular first baseman, a position which 
he held for eighteen years. After his pitching 
arm had begun to give him trouble he had played 
third base with success but, from the minute he 
appeared at the initial corner, critics recognized 
in him a player born to the position. 

The royal remuneration of $50 a month failed 
to turn his head and he continued his railroad 

That Hole in the Fence 53 

run during the winters, his combined duties 
keeping him in Chicago and Duhuque, by turns, 
up to the beginning of 1882. During the summer 
of '81 Sullivan had been invited to bring his 
" Babbits " to St. Louis for a game with the 
newly organized Browns, which he did. The 
game was played on the Grand Avenue grounds, 
July 16, and resulted in a 9 to 1 victory for the 
home team, on which were found " Commy's " 
old team mates Jack and Bill Gleason. 

During the overheated combat St. Louis fans 
were given the first glimpse of Charles Comis- 
key, who played an errorless game at first base. 
The admiration must have been mutual, for 
from that day to this the " Old Roman " has 
had nothing but praises for the Mound City, 
while for years after the old Browns had been 
swallowed up by the new, they were still naming 
babies after the great first sacker. 

The box score failed to show anything remark- 
able, but it may be noticed that Tom Loftus got 
one hit and Comiskey the other, a two-bagger. 
The lanky visitor also played his position with- 
out an error, accepting twelve chances. As they 
are of historical interest, the statistics of this, his 
first game in St. Louis, are here given as tabu- 
lated in " The National Game ": 

54 " Commy 

ST. Louis AB R BH PO A E 

J. Gleason, 3b 5 1 1 1 3 3 

W. Gleason, ss 5 1 1 1 6 

McCaffery, cf 5 2 2 2 

Seward, c 5 1 3 9 1 1 

Morgan, rf 5 1 1 1 

McGinnis, p 5 1 1 1 

Magner, If 5 1 1 2 

McDonald, 2b 4 1 2 

Gault, Ib 4 2 10 1 

. Totals 43 9 12 27 12 5 


Sullivan, p, ss 4 1 2 4 

Loftus, 2b 4 1 3 3 

Comiskey, Ib 4 1 12 

Ross, c 4 2 

Burns, 3b 4 2 1 

Lear, rf 4 2 

Morrison, ss, p 400023 

Keys, If 4 2 

Phelan, cf 4 1 1 

Totals 36 1 2 24 11 5 

Earned runs Browns, 8. Two-base hits McGinnis, Gault, 

W. Gleason, Comiskey. Bases on balls Sullivan and Magner. 

Umpire Charles Levis. Official scorer A. H. Spink. 

Although there were others among the visitors 
more famous than the first baseman, Comiskey 
seems to have been the cynosure of all eyes and the 
verdict at the close was that he " would do." 

Von der Ahe bursts upon the scene " Commy " 
as head of the Browns "Der boss president" 
levies fines and is "stung" Calls Spalding's 
bluff The $20,000 train Comiskey dons brown 
socks Never forgets two-bit experiment Rule 
makers " fence " him in. 

St. Louis was a charter member of the National 
League and held a franchise in that organiza- 
tion during the years 1876 and 1877. The ambi- 
tion to possess itself of a winner led to its 
downfall and the throwing up of the sponge 
after the close of '77 season. In order to assure 
a championship to the city the owners signed, 
among otheis, Graver, Devlin, Nichols and Hall 
of the Louisville club. Soon after the signatures 
of the four had been affixed to contracts, came 
the revelation of the " throwing " of games in 
the preceding season by this quartet and their 
eventual expulsion from organized baseball. The 
St. Louis management, disgusted by the turn 
of events, pulled out of the league and the city 


56 " Commy. " 

was not again represented in the parent organ- 
ization until 1885. 

The St. Louis owners were made the victims 
of circumstances over which they had no control, 
but the fiasco put baseball out of joint in the 
Missouri metropolis for a time, and it was not 
until 1879 that the game began to show signs of 
life. Then a number of business men and fans 
combined to organize a team which was chris- 
tened the Browns. 

The elimination of St. Louis from the pro- 
fessional circuit in 1878, as has been recorded, 
paved the way for a new league and, when the 
American Association was organized in the win- 
ter of 1881, after a western tour of the Athletics 
of Philadelphia during the preceding summer, 
the city became a member and remained one for 
an even decade. During nine of these years 
Charles A. Comiskey wore the brick-red socks 
and drew his salary from Christopher Von der 
Ahe, who was the principal promoter of the 
Association and the original and only " boss 
president " of the Browns. 

In Von der Ahe the game produced the most 
unique character that the sport has seen since 
its formation, and the St. Louis summer garden 
proprietor is deserving of more than a passing 
notice before we continue the story of the man 

" Der Boss President " 57 

who more than anyone else contributed to his 
sporting and financial success. 

Baseball did not originally mean much to 
Von der Ahe. The waiter in a white apron, 
who could pick his way with the biggest tray 
of steins between the round tables under the 
trees adjacent to the ball park, cut as much 
figure with him as the mightiest home run 
clouter on his team. One department of his 
business was as important as the other as long 
as the coin jingled in the cash box, but with 
the onward march of the Browns came a change 
and Von der Ahe, almost over night, became the 
most powerful and enthusiastic baseball mag- 
nate in the country. The summer garden and 
grocery store were forgotten as pennant fol- 
lowed pennant on the flag pole. 

Borne on the wave of affluence and popularity 
by the champion Browns he reached the pinnacle 
of his fame in the period between 1884 and 1889. 
Having attained the peak the Brotherhood revolt 
burst, and the fortune he had amassed was dis- 
sipated as speedily as it had been accumulated. 
The friends of his more prosperous days dis- 
appeared as the contents of his purse diminished, 
but it is known to a few that the man to whom 
he offered a salary of $90 a month in his first 
baseball venture helped materially to ease his 

58 " Commy " 

declining days. Of the many who had profited 
by his largess in the more prosperous days the 
" Old Eoman " was one of the few who stuck to 
him as a friend to the end. Shortly before he 
died Chris willed his benefactor the only thing 
that escaped his creditors a solid silver statue 
of a ball player in action, presented to the 
Browns by Erastus Wyman. This work of the 
silversmith's art has now an honored place in 
Comiskey's private office. 

Von der Ahe, being too busy in counting and 
spending the proceeds to give much heed to the 
game, had the good judgment, early in his 
career as a baseball magnate, to leave the 
technical side to others, and from 1884 on it 
devolved on Comiskey, as captain and manager, 
to look after the destinies of the Browns, off and 
on the field. 

To outsiders and to the newspaper men Von 
der Ahe wanted to be known as a real baseball 
man, a weakness of his which served mostly to 
furnish the sporting writers with copy for the 
humorous column. The genius and diplomacy 
of his manager, and the latter 's faculty of 
acquiescing in everything that Von der Ahe sug- 
gested and then doing the opposite, had a tend- 
ency to blunt the barbed shafts directed against 
" der boss president.'* 

" Der Boss President " 59 

Von der Ahe's limited knowledge of the game 
was never better illustrated than when on a 
certain occasion he insisted on describing the 
beauties of his baseball plant to some visiting 

" Some plant, eh? " said the guileless Chris 
to his visitors as his chest expanded. " I have 
the biggest diamond in the world, and " 

" Chris, all diamonds are the same size," 
whispered Comiskey in his ear. 

" I mean, gentlemen, the Browns are playing 
on the biggest infield in the world," promptly 
corrected the owner. 

The dialectic ornaments to Chris's speech have 
been omitted, as I have yet to hear anyone 
approximate a real imitation of his inimitable 

His knowledge of the fine points of the game 
was as limited as his vocabulary after a losing 
contest was extensive. 

" Them visitors have a punk man in right 
field," he would inform Comiskey after the heat 
of the combat was over. " Now, for to-morrow, 
tell the boys to hit all balls into right. ' ' 

" Sure, Chris, that was the place to put them, 
but the boys wouldn't do as I told them," would 
be the mollifying response of his manager. 

" Well, I'll fine every mother's son a month's 

60 "Commy" 

salary, who double-crosses you, Charlie," would 
be the comforting assurance of " der boss." 

Fining his players was the great indoor sport 
of Chris. He fined them individually and in 
platoons. He would sit on the roof of the stand 
among his directors, and plaster on fines until the 
pay roll was exhausted. 

11 Ach, you Gleason, that will cost you a hun- 
dred, ' ' he would remark as a ball would go scoot- 
ing through the infield twenty feet from the short 

" But, Chris, he wasn't even near the ball," 
someone would interject. 

* ' But why wasn't he in front of it? " spluttered 
Chris, and that would wind up that argument. 

Arlie Latham, third baseman on the team, who 
during the late war contributed his bit by coach- 
ing Uncle Sam's ball teams in the base camps in 
England, was always a thorn in the side of Chris. 
Latham was the clown of the team and was always 
making life miserable for " der boss." As a con- 
sequence he was probably fined oftener than any 
other member of the team, although Gleason had 
to share part of the burden. At the many 
" stated" meetings, which the president insisted 
on holding in his office there would come a snort 
from somewhere. 

"I don't know who it was, but Gleason, you 

" Der Boss President " 61 

look guilty and it will cost you a hundred," blus- 
tered Chris. 

11 But, honest, Chris, I never made a sound,'* 
pleaded the innocent Bill. " I couldn't, I was 
just taking a chew." 

" Well, maybe it wasn't you, but you are fined 
fifty for making a pig pen of the office, and," 
with another outburst from some corner of the 
room, " the hundred goes for you, Arlie," and 
the meeting would be adjourned. 

The irrepressible Latham having one day vio- 
lated Von der Ahe's code of ethics was promptly 
soaked $100. Apparently crestfallen, Arlie, an 
hour later, met his boss in front of the bar. 

" Now, Chris, that fine really doesn't go, does 
it? " asked the penitent third sacker. 

Chris, seeing the contrite expression, admitted 
it probably had been a little stiff and said he 
would knock off $50. 

" Great," said the player, slapping the presi- 
dent on the back. " I knew you would do that> 
and Chris, if you will let me have $50 it will make 
it even." 

" Sure," assented Von der Ahe, and Arlie had 
a new story for the boys in the club house. 

" But you are out $50," suggested Comiskey, 
when the president told how he had remitted part 
of the fine. This fact having percolated through 

62 " Commy " 

his cranium, Chris, with a great show of indigna- 
tion, promised that he would make it $150 next 

As a matter of fact fines never worried the boys 
as the majority were always a jump or two ahead 
when payday came. Should anyone suffer a lapse 
and have enough money coming to cover the fine? 
the manager usually persuaded Chris to tack on a 
bonus for some imaginary good piece of work dur- 
ing the month, which would more than cover the 

An even temperament was not characteristic of 
Chris. It was either sunshine or darkness, with 
never a trace of twilight in his makeup. It was 
everything or nothing. He was a gambler by in- 
stinct, if not in practice. 

A. G. Spalding and A. C. Anson discovered this 
before the world's series games between the 
Browns and the White Stockings in 1886. 

" Play you winner take all or no series," was 
the ultimatum from Chicago. 

' ' What do you think about it, Charlie f ' ' asked 
Chris of his manager. 

" Nothing would suit the boys and myself bet- 
ter," answered " Commy." 

Comiskey's team won the series, as later related 
in detail. 

In the way of expenses, especially when the out- 

" Der Boss President " 63 

lay promised some return in the spectacular, noth- 
ing feazed Von der Ahe in those halcyon days. 
His great team had proved a gold mine year after 
year and though he boosted the salary of his man- 
ager from $90 a month to $8,000 a year, and some 
of the other players in proportion, the receipts so 
far exceeded his expenses that he was hard put 
to circulate the money. He built a row of apart- 
ment houses and named them after his star play- 
ers. It was surmised by some that when the 
buildings ceased to be a paying proposition he 
took a dislike to five of his stars and sold them to 
make up the difference. 

In order to get rid of his surplus cash after the 
season of 1888, and after " Charlie " had won 
the fourth successive pennant for him, he decided 
on a special train from St. Louis to New York, 
whither he was bound for a world's series with 
the Giants. He wrote from Cincinnati, where the 
team was playing, to arrange .for it, accommoda- 
tion to include everything the railroad could offer 
to his players and guests. The total staggered 
his secretary, Al Spink, who reported that it 
would cost $20,000. Chris wired back: " What 
of it? " 

The train was delivered and rolled into New 
York to the wonder of the natives. Chris paid 
the bills, railroad as well as hotel, but that was 

not enough. " Der boss president " wanted to 
break into print with a new one, so after the 
second game of the series, which the Browns won, 
he sent word to each of his players and guests to 
order a suit of clothes and send the bill to him. 
He was accommodated and it was figured that the 
trip to New York cost Von der Ahe approximately 

It was this type of man with whom Charles 
Comiskey linked his fortune in 1882, the first year 
of the American Association a league which 
almost entirely centered around Comiskey 's four- 
time champions. Al Spink, among others, had 
watched the wiry youth at first base at the exhibi- 
tion games between the Kabbits and the Browns, 
and during the winter following Spink wrote 
Comiskey offering the latter a job with the 

11 Am I fast enough for that company? " he 
queried of Sullivan. 

" You are too speedy for me," retorted Ted, 
and ' ' Commy ' ' went. 

A year later the player returned the compli- 
ment by persuading Von der Ahe to engage Sul- 
livan as manager, pointing out that with Ted 
as leader there would be only one boss. The 
prediction came true, and as soon as Chris thought 
there was room for two, the pair split, which hap- 

The Old Roman ready for a hike in 
the northern woods (1917). 

" Der Boss President " 65 

pened towards the fag end of the 1883 season. 
In the meantime, however, Sullivan had suc- 
ceeded in getting together a team, which with 
additions made by Comiskey later, became the 
wonder of the baseball world. 

Calculating his increased earning as sufficient 
for housekeeping Comiskey took another impor- 
tant step in 1882, by marrying Miss Nan Kelly, 
of Dubuque. The two had been engaged for 
almost three years, but " Commy " wanted to 
get settled before he led his bride to the altar. 
It would be a better story were a little baseball 
romance woven into the first meeting between 
the two lovers but it must be recorded, for the 
sake of truth, that there was nothing of the kind. 
It was only after the newlyweds had moved to 
St. Louis that Mrs. Comiskey became a fan and 
a mascot. Years afterwards her husband said: 

11 1 wouldn't know what to do were my wife 
not to start out with the team on every training 
trip. She is as much a part of the club as I am 
and she is the closest pal I ever had." 

Two children resulted from the union, one of 
whom, a boy, died in infancy. The other, Lou, 
who is known to every fan, is the treasurer of the 
White Sox Club. He was born in 1885. 

Comiskey and Von der Ahe got along famously, 
even though Chris found it impossible to travel 

66 " Commy " 

iu the same harness with anyone else for any 
length of time. The reason may be found in the 
fact that Comiskey never paid the slightest atten- 
tion to the frequent outbursts of the boss but, 
penetrating the rough exterior, early discovered 
a heart as big as that of an ox. On top of this 
he played the game on the square with Chris, 
which the latter was quick to acknowledge, and 
the mercurial magnate boasted to his friends that 
Charlie never worried him with any tricks, which 
to the sorely harassed executive meant a lot. 

The team which took the field in 1882, with 
Ed Cuthbert as manager, had some good players 
in its lineup but it did not compare with those 
which followed. Before the regular season 
opened in the spring exhibition games were 
played, and here is the box score of the first 
game in which Comiskey appeared in a St. Louis 
Browns' uniform: 


W. Gleason, ss 5 1 

Walker, cf 4 1 1 

Comiskey, Ib 4 1 1 11 

Davis, 3b 4 1 1 1 2 

Smiley, 2b 400130 

Seward, c 4 13 3 

McGinnis, p 4 2 1 

Cuthbert, If 4 2 1 

Shappert, rf 4 1 

Totals . 37 2 7 27 5 7 

" Der Boss President " 67 


Morgan, 3b 4 1 1 2 

Simpson, 2b 4 1 2 

Decker, cf 4 1 1 2 1 3 

Cunningham, If 4 8 1 

Wagner, ss 402340 

Croft, Ib 3 5 2 

Hogan, p 3 1 10 

Dillon, rf 3 1 1 1 

Houtz, c 3 3 

Totals 32 4 5 27 18 3 

Innings 123456789 

Browns 2 02 

Standards 10 2 1 04 

Total bases Browns, 8; Standards, 3. Umpire Dave Ring. 
Time, 1:35. 

Comiskey's first appearance against the 
Browns, like his first game with them, was a 
defeat, but the rough spots had been smoothed a 
week later and the Browns walloped the life out 
of the Standards. 

The American Association made its big organiz- 
ing campaign on the platform of 25-cent ball, 
instead of 50 cents, which was charged in the 
National League. The price cutting, although 
popular in St. Louis, proved a mistake from a 
financial viewpoint elsewhere, but the venture 
was a bonanza for Von der Ahe almost from the 
start, and the following year Ted Sullivan was 
given the task of organizing a winner. 

68 " Commy " 

The two-bit experiment in 1882 was not for- 
gotten by Comiskey, and when he came to Chi- 
cago and was taken to task by his fellow mag- 
nates for his encouragement of 25-cent ball, he 
replied that as long as he controlled his own team 
the bleacher patrons would have an equal show 
with the grand stand spectators. Consequently 
the " uncovered " accommodations at the South 
Side Park in Chicago approximate 25 per cent 
of the whole by far the largest in the league. 

" It doesn't bring in quite as much money at 
the gate as the more expensive seats but it gives 
a greater number a chance to see my team and 
that is the big thing with me," Comiskey said 
in answer to the criticism. 

The team which Sullivan handed to Von der 
Ahe for the 1883 season, after the Browns had 
finished fifth in a six-club league in 1882, con- 
sisted of the following: 

Tom Deasley, Tom Dolan and Tom Sullivan, 
catchers; Tony Mullane, Charles Hodnett, George 
McGinnis and Henry Oberbeck, pitchers; Charles 
Comiskey, first base; George Strief, second base; 
Walter A. Latham, third base; William Gleason, 
short stop; Eddie Cuthbert, left field; Oberbeck 
or Mullane, center field; Hugh Nicol, right field. 

Sullivan, as manager, parted company with Von 
der Ahe before the season was over and in the 

" Der Boss President " 69 

following year took over the management of the 
St. Louis Union League club, which only lasted 
out the season. 

Jimmy Williams succeeded Ted Sullivan and 
hung on until the middle of the 1884 season, 
when, after another one of his outbursts, Chris 
found himself without a leader. In this dilemma 
Von der Ahe turned to the twenty-five-year-old 
youngster from Chicago, who was still lean and 
possibly inexperienced, but with a head full of 
new ideas as to how the game should be played. 
It was a leap in the dark for the first sacker, but 
he promised Chris that he would try, and from 
that day to the winter of 1901 he held the man- 
agerial reins. 

The Browns of 1883 had come within one game 
of landing the pennant, and now with Comiskey 
in full charge things began to hum, although, 
perhaps due to a bad start, the team was unable 
to do better than fourth in a twelve club league. 
The team finished 74 points behind the champion 
Metropolitans of New York. It was made up of 
the following players: 

Tom Deasley and Tom Dolan, catchers ; William 
Widmer and George McGinnis, pitchers; Charles 
Comiskey, first base ; George Strief and Joe Quest, 
second; Walter A. Latham, third; William Glea- 
son, short stop; J. E. (Tip) O'Neill, left field; 

70 " Commy " 

Fred Lewis and Harry Wheeler, center; Hugh 
Nicol, right. 

Comiskey had, at the start of his league career, 
shown a number of new wrinkles to American 
Association fans. Up to his advent it had been 
the custom of the first baseman to glue himself 
to the bag. Comiskey cut loose from the sack, 
edging out in the territory towards right field. 
He taught the pitcher how to cover first base 
in an emergency, although he was one of the few 
basemen who relieved the twirler of much of this 
work. The innovation did not look natural to many 
of the old timers, but in a comparatively short 
time every first sacker had moved out. Comis- 
key 's next logical move was to shift the whole 
infield, in or out, as occasions demanded. 

The pastime began to have a new meaning to 
the fans with the disappearance of the motionless 
first baseman and with the mobile infield. The 
Browns were hailed as missionaries of a new 
game and they soon had the reputation of being 
the speediest combination in the country. Given 
speed, pitching and head work Comiskey figured 
he had the world beaten. He went along on this 
theory and won four championships in a row. 

Batting was not underrated but, although he 
had his share of sluggers on the Browns, Comis- 
key did not consider stick work the most impor- 

" Der Boss President " 71 

tant feature except as it synchronized with, other 
departments of the game. Years later in 1906 
this was again demonstrated when the White Sox, 
the "hitless wonders," won the World's Cham- 
pionship after having captured the American 
League pennant on a minimum of batting. 

Comiskey himself was not a heavy hitter but 
he had a knack of worrying the pitcher and his 
.250 or .275 batting average for the season meant 
more to his team than the ordinary .300 percent- 
age. When once on the bases the troubles of the 
opponents began. Never a trick escaped him and 
he rapidly became a terror as a base runner. That 
he stole 62 bases in 1887 and 77 in 1888 showed 
how well he could control his feet. 

The leader of the Browns was speedy but he 
was far from being a Sheffield Handicap man. 
There were many who could beat him in a sprint, 
but few who could get more out of base-running 
than he. Given an even break in sliding into a 
base, nine times out of ten he gained the decision, 
the fielders usually making a stab at the shadow 
instead of the substance, and this despite the 
fact that they had a mark of over six feet to 
aim at. 

On the next page is shown Comiskey 's bat- 
ting and fielding records for the time he served 
in the major leagues, " pinch hitting " giving him 

72 " Commy " 


Year, Club and League. 











1882 St. Louis 







1883 St. Louis 







1884 St. Louis 







1885 St. Louis 







1886 St. Louis 







1887 St. Louis 







1888 St. Louis 


A .... 





1889 St. Louis 







1890 Chicago P. L 





1891 St. Louis 







1892 Cincinnati 







1893 Cincinnati 







1894 Cincinnati 







Totals for 13 


1,370 1,533 









Year, Club and League. 




















1882 St. Louis 



.... 77 





1883 St. Louis 



.... 91 





1884 St. Louis 



.... 99 





1885 St. Louis 



.... 82 





1886 St. Louis 








1887 St. Louis 








1888 St. Louis 








1889 St. Louis 



.... 134 





1890 Chicago P. L 

.... 88 





1891 St. Louis 



.... 130 





1892 Cincinnati 








1893 Cincinnati 



.... 62 





1894 Cincinnati 



, , 59 





Totals for 13 years 1,338 13,504 499 359 .973 

" Der Boss President " 73 

a slightly higher total in the number of games 
played as a batter. 

From the figures it will be seen that he batted 
above the .300 mark but once in his major league 
career 1887 when he finished the season with 
an average of .368. In fielding he reached .983 in 
his first year at Cincinnati, where he played in 
every one of the 140 games scheduled. 

Comiskey's career as a player, captain, man- 
ager and owner is shown at a glance by the follow- 
ing table: 

1875-1898 Player pitcher and fielder. 

1883-89 Captain and first baseman of the St. 

Louis Browns. 
1884-89 Manager of the St. Louis Browns. 

1890 Captain and manager of the Chicago 

Brotherhood team. 

1891 Captain and manager St. Louis 

1892-94 Manager Cincinnati National League 

1895-99 Owner and manager St. Paul Western 

League team. 
1900 Owner and manager Chicago White 

1901 Owner Chicago White Sox. 

74 " Commy " 

The new ideas advanced by Comiskey have 
been frequently exploited by chroniclers from the 
time he began, but little has been recorded about 
the flaws he discovered. Bill Gleason, his team- 
mate, thinks he was responsible for half the 
changes in playing methods. Among others he is 
held responsible for the coaching box and the 
double umpire system. James A. Hart, former 
president of the Cubs, related to the writer several 
years ago the reason for the barriers at first and 

" The chalk lines which enclose the coaching 
boxes were added to the field diagram after 
Charles Comiskey had demonstrated their neces- 
sity," he said. " Comiskey and Bill Gleason used 
to plant themselves on each side of the visiting 
catcher and comment on his breeding, personal 
habits, skill as a receiver, or rather lack of it, 
until the unlucky backstop was unable to tell 
whether one or half a dozen balls were coming his 
way. Not infrequently the umpire came in for a 
few remarks. 

" ' He's a sweet bird, isn't he, Bill? ' Comis- 
key would chirp. 

" 'Never heard of him before, did you, 
Commy? ' would be the dulcet reply of Gleason. 

" ' The cat must have brought him in and put 
him in the keeping of the umpire or else how 

" Der Boss President " 75 

could he last more than an inning? ' and so to 
the end of the chapter. 

" This solicitous attention did not add to the 
efficiency of the backstop, so for the sake of not 
unduly increasing the population of the insane 
asylums or encouraging justifiable homicide, the 
coacher's box was invented. This helped out the 
catcher, but the pitcher and other players on the 
opposing team, were still at the mercy of Comis- 
key, and I know of no man who had a sharper 
tongue, who was in command of more biting sar- 
casm, or who was quicker at repartee." 

Comiskey 's ' * deadly ' ' coaching centered in the 
fact that he was playing the game every minute. 
After a contest had been lost he could stretch and 
forget it, but he never permitted anyone to lose 
sight of the fact that he was on the field to win. 
In later years he carried a similar spirit with him 
to the grand stand, and as for the bench old 
timers recount with glee his antics in the ' ' coop. ' ' 

" If I could find the time I would wish for no 
better vacation than to travel with Comiskey 
and sit with him on the bench, ' ' said the late John 
T. Brush. " If I also could have a shorthand 
writer with me I would be fixed for entertainment 
for the winter. No man could put more in a sen- 
tence than Charles Comiskey." 

His nervousness on the bench was often taken 

76 " Commy " 

advantage of by his men. It was usually his habit 
to unconsciously glide from one end of the bench 
to the other during a game, or even during an 
inning. Frank Isbell. who aided materially in 
winning the first World's Championship for the 
White Sox, and who originally broke into the 
game with Comiskey in the Western League, is 
credited with having driven a nail from the under 
side of the board at St. Paul. The point was ele- 
vated just high enough to become rasping with- 
out being conspicuous, although the rest of the 
players were " next." 

The fact that Comiskey was in civilian clothes 
added to the zest of the undertaking. In due 
time came the tight inning and the rapid shifting 
of the boss. The hit that tied it up produced 
unwonted action. Commy slid over the obstruc- 
tion but he did not discover until after the game 
was over that his trousers were bifurcated later- 
ally as well as longitudinally. 


A $15,000 SLIDE 

Comiskcy starts organizing his four-time winners 
Establishes a monopoly in pennants Praise for 
Ted Sullivan He never forgets Browns and 
Anson's White Stockings compared How 
' ' Commy 's ' ' first world 's title was won Broadway 
lights Browns' undoing. 

Pretzels and ball players, being of equal impor- 
tance to Von der Ahe, it devolved on his manager 
to organize for the campaigns which culminated 
in Curt Welch's $15,000 slide and a world's cham- 
pionship in '86. Comiskey started out by adding 
William Widmer to his 1884 pitching staff, Joe 
Quest to his infield, Fred Lewis, Harry Wheeler 
and the greatest of sluggers, Tip O'Neill, to his 
outfield. Those discarded were Tom Sullivan, 
Tony Mullane, Charles Hodnett, Henry Oberbeck 
and Eddie Cuthbert. 

Before the season was over Comiskey discovered 
that he did not have a real pennant contender and 
during the winter came the final rounding out of 
the " four-time winners," the pride of Missouri. 
Here they are : 


78 " Commy " 

Caruthers and Foutz, pitchers; Bushong, 
catcher; Comiskey, first base; Robinson, second 
base; Latham, third base; Gleason, short stop; 
'Neill, left field ; Welch, center field ; Nicol, right 

This was the regular lineup of the Browns. A 
few utility players figured during succeeding 
years but the team was known as a ten-man com- 
bination, and the changes for three seasons were 
inconsequential. Hudson was added to the pitch- 
ing staff in 1886, while ' ' Silver ' ' King and Boyle 
were signed in 1887. 

Von der Ahe 's brainstorm wrecked the wonder- 
ful combination during the winter of 1887, Foutz, 
Caruthers and Bushong being sold to the Brook- 
lyn American Association team and Bill Gleason 
and Curt Welch to the Philadelphia Athletics. 

Nothing brought out Comiskey 's genius for 
leadership as the campaign of 1888, and it is doubt- 
ful if such a feat has ever been equaled in the 
annals of baseball as he performed that year. 
Five of his greatest players over one-half of his 
regular lineup had been transferred to other 
teams in his own league. 

Few of the baseball wiseacres expected the 
Browns to do much better than last, and Von der 
Ahe, from having been one of the most popular 
men in St. Louis, found it convenient to keep out 

A $15,000 Slide 79 

of the sight of the enraged followers of the cham- 

Despite the terrific handicap Comiskey did his 
best to mollify the fans, although his friends 
tried to persuade him to sever his connection 
with Von der Ahe. He started out at a fair pace 
and finished the season like a whirlwind, in first 
place, with this team: 

King, Hudson, Chamberlin and Devlin, pitch- 
ers; Boyle and Milligan, catchers; Comiskey, first 
base; Eobinson, second; Latham, third; White, 
short stop; O'Neill, left field; Lyons, center; Mc- 
Carthy, right. 

Brooklyn, which had profited by the trade for 
Foutz, Caruthers and Bushong, finished in sec- 
ond place, 52 points behind the winners, while 
the Athletics, who had been strengthened by the 
acquisition of Gleason and Welch, beat out Cin- 
cinnati for third place. 

The next year the race simmered down to a 
contest between the Browns and Brooklyn, into 
which the personal element largely entered. 
Toward the close of the season two games, for- 
feited by the Browns to Brooklyn, came near 
breaking up the league, as the Board of Directors 
in a special meeting upheld the action of Comis- 
key in withdrawing from the field in one game 
and refusing to take his chances against the Flat- 

80 " Commy " 

bush rowdies on the Sabbath, in another. Brook- 
lyn won but the Browns were behind only two 
games at the finish with this team: 

Jack Boyle and John Milligan, catchers; Jack 
Stivetts and Silver King, pitchers; Comiskey. 
first base; William Robinson, second; "W. 
(Shorty) Fuller, short stop; Arlie Latham, third; 
Tip O'Neill, left field; Eddie Duffie, center; 
Tommy McCarthy, right; Henry Lyons, utility 

With the end of the '89 season Comiskey 's 
career in St. Louis practically came to a close, 
although he returned in 1891, after the Brother- 
hood war, for one season. The final drive for an 
Association pennant saw the Browns in second 
place as low, with one exception, as Comiskey 
ever fell in the Association while manager. His 
nature, though, rebelled against figuring worse 
than first. It was while a number of his friends 
congratulated him over the fact that the White 
Sox had finished as well as second in 1916 the 
" Old Roman " gave voice to this aphorism: 

1 1 First place is the only subject of conversation. 
Everybody chokes up before they get as far aa 

After Boston had been awarded the pennant it 
was curtains for the American Association. It 
had so fallen upon evil days that its demise was 

A $15,000 Slide 81 

almost painless, except to those who were unfor- 
tunate enough to hold the bag. The National 
League, as a twelve-club organization, swallowed 
up some of the Association franchises. Among the 
new members in the parent body was Chris Von 
der Ahe, who stuck as " der boss president " 
until 1898. History has dealt fairly with both 
owner and manager but it is doubtful if the name 
of Chris Von der Ahe ever would have figured in 
major league baseball if he had had any other 
leader for his team than Charles Comiskey. With- 
out the latter there probably would have been no 
championships and with no title holders to draw 
the fans, there could have been no chance for 
* ' der boss ' ' to make a splurge. 

Comiskey has never been loquacious in discuss- 
ing the responsibility for getting the Browns 
together except to credit Ted Sullivan with the 
major part of it. He permitted Von der Ahe to 
share in the honors, although it is well known that 
the functions of the latter consisted in supplying 
the cash, which others had earned for him. As a 
matter of fact Von der Ahe received more for 
players than he paid although his liberality with 
the men personally often swung the scales in 
Comiskey 's favor. 

It was a good team which Sullivan put together 
in 1883, but for the sake of the reputation of 

82 " Commy " 

others it should be pointed out that it was not the 
combination which won the title for St. Louis later 
on. Some few cogs were missing at the start. 
Robinson, Welch, O'Neill, Bushong, Caruthers 
and Foutz were not on hand when Comiskey took 
the reins in 1884. Comiskey dismisses the subject 
with the remark: 

' ' I think Ted found most of them. ' ' 

Sullivan admits that he did some scouting for 
the Browns after he quit as manager but the fact 
remains that it was up to Comiskey to pass on 
them regardless of who picked them out. What 
was even more important, it was up to him to mold 
them into that frictionless machine which steam- 
rolled its way to four pennants. 

As far as the playing end was concerned there 
was only one boss during the seven out of nine 
years and Comiskey was u it. " The campaigns 
league, world 's or merely exhibition tours were 
all thought out by him. He never went to bed 
without figuring out a plan of strategy for the 
following day and he held himself responsible for 
the smallest detail, off and on the field. In this 
his marvelous memory stood him in good stead. 
Once heard, a thing was never forgotten. It is 
deemed appropriate to digress for an excursion 
into this phase of his personality. 

I have rubbed elbows with people in most cor-: 

A $15,000 Slide 83 

ners of the globe but I have yet to meet a human 
being with the retentive memory of Comiskey. 
Eepeated demonstrations of that faculty have 
been to me a constant source of wonderment for 
many years. 

Going through Memphis once on a spring trip 
with the White Sox a stranger boarded the train, 
inquiring for Mr. Comiskey. I directed him 
towards the owner's stateroom, but on our way 
down the aisle of the car we met the " Old 
Roman. ' ' 

Not being endowed with " Commy's " gift, I 
have forgotten the names of the characters which 
figured in this little morning drama, but at any 
rate the visitor and, we will call him Jim, made 
a courtly bow, at the same time expressing his 
pleasure at seeing the owner of the White Sox. 

' * I was one of your admirers in the days of the 
old Browns," he explained, " and hearing that 
you were to pass through, I came down to shake 
hands with you and wish you all the luck in the 
world for the coming season." 

Comiskey regarded the lanky caller for just a 
moment, then reached out his hand. 

" Well, Jim, how are you and how is Mrs. 

, and, I suppose John and Mary have grown 

up and are married by this time." 

Having elaborated on the condition of the 

84 " Commy " 

family tree Jim departed and the train moved on. 

" An old friend of yours? " I enquired. 

" Sure, but for a moment I was embarrassed, 
not being able to recall his name," came the 
answer. " I didn't know his family very well 
as I never met them but once." 

There was an interval of twenty-two years 
between the meetings. 

This faculty came into daily use on the ball 
field and it explained many of the phenomenal 
feats exhibited by this master of the craft. 
Once he had spotted a weak point in an oppos- 
ing player he never forgot it though he might 
not have occasion to put it to a test for years. 
Thus it happened that an enthusiastic scout 
rushed into the presence of Owner Comiskey 
with the tale of a marvelous find. 

" But he can't play the sun field." 

" How do you know? " came the query. 

" I saw him try it once," and the deal was off. 

The ivory hunter then discovered that Comis- 
key had seen the player in action several years 
before on one of the spring exhibition trips 
but he had never forgotten the man's failings. 

It was so during his playing days. A new 
opponent would plant himself at the plate, 
backed by a big bat and a reputation as a 
slugger. A signal from first base to the pitcher 

A $15,000 Slide 83 

and the newcomer would whiff on three high 
ones close to the breast bone. 

" How did you know what he was weak on, 
Commy? " the puzzled Caruthers asked. 

" Why, didn't I see him put a ball over the 
fence on a low one on the outside a few years 
ago up around Galena? I figured he didn't like 
the insiders.' 7 

It was the same all the way down the line. 
Once a move was mirrored in ' ' Commy 's ' ' mind 
he never lost it. Combine this with clear judg- 
ment, the faculty of meeting emergencies on 
the instant, without showing a trace of the " rat- 
tles," and is it any wonder that championships 
have trailed the " Old Eoman " through nearly 
four decades? 

Many critics have insisted that, player for 
player, the old Browns did not measure up to 
Anson's heroic legion of 1885 and '86. Perhaps 
they did not, but glance at the result of the two 
series between the teams of Comiskey and Anson. 
Anson's own opinion of his team is best given 
in his book, " A Ball Player's Career," and this 
is, in part, what he says : 

The team that brought the pennant back 
to Chicago in the year of 1885 and 1886 was, 
in my estimation, not only the strongest 

86 " Commy " 

team that I ever had under my management 
but, taken all in all, one of the strongest 
teams that has ever been gotten together in 
the history of the [National] League, the 
position of left field, which was still being 
played by Dalrymple, being its only weak 
spot. * * * In its pitching department 
it was second in strength to none of its 
competitors and behind the bat were Flint 
and Kelly, both of whom were widely and 
favorably known. 

The outfield was, to say the least, equal 
to that of any other of the league clubs, 
and the infield admittedly the strongest in 
the country. This was the infield that 
became famous as " Chicago's stone wall," 
that name being given to it for the reasons 
that the only way that a ball could be gotten 
through it was to bat it so high that it was 
out of reach. 

In order to refresh the memory of the reader 
it might be well to recall that on this great team 
Larry Corcoran, John Clarkson, James McCor- 
mick and John Flynn were the pitchers; Mike 
Kelly and Frank Flint, catchers; A. C. Anson, 
Fred Pfeffer, Ed Williamson and Tom Burns, 
made up the infield while Abner Dalrymple, 

A $15,000 Slide 87 

George Gore, Jimmy Ryan and Billy Sunday 
and others cavorted in the outfield. 

The best that this famous aggregation could 
get was a draw with the Browns in '85, being 
decisively beaten in '86. Physically, perhaps, 
Anson's legion may have outclassed the Browns. 
If they did, what about the 1882 White Stock- 
ings, which Mike Kelly dubbed the greatest team 
of all time? They were great, in Kelly's opin- 
ion, mainly on account of the size of the play- 
ers, whose heroic proportions were enough to 
inspire fear in their opponents the minute they 
marched across the field. Yet, regardless of a 
difference of opinion Anson's Eighty-sixers 
could be put down as " some " team. 

It was recognized that in Clarkson and Kelly, 
Anson had one of the best batteries that ever 
swapped signals. He himself was a fine first 
sacker and a mighty slugger. Then size up 
the rest and permit them to mill around Ed 
Williamson, in Anson's estimation the greatest 
player that ever lived. Quite a bunch that, and 
yet they were beaten when it came to a test. 

In batting strength the White Stockings sur- 
passed the Browns. In fielding there was not 
much to chose, although, if there were an edge, 
Chicago had it. In pitchers there were Caruth- 
ers, Foutz and Hudson, against the redoubtable 

88 " Commy " 

Clarkson and McCormick, while as a receiver 
Bushong had to practically hold his own against 
the veterans Kelly and Flint. Then what 
decided? We hazard the opinion that strategy 
did it. Anson explains the 1886 series like 

11 We were beaten, and fairly beaten, but had 
some of the players taken as good care of them- 
selves prior to these games as they were in the 
habit of doing when the league season was in 
full swing, I am inclined to believe that there 
might have been a different tale to tell. ' ' 

Here is another comment on the Browns by 
the leader of the Chicago team: 

" The St. Louis Browns was a strong organi- 
zation, a very strong one, and when we met 
them in a series of games for what was styled 
at the time the world's championship, in the 
fall of 1885, they would have been able, in my 
estimation, to have given any and all of the 
[National] League clubs a race for the money." 

The 1885 series had been a see-saw affair 
with the base hits scattered between the Alle- 
ghanies and the Mississippi River. The first 
game, which was played in Chicago, was a tie. 
Of the next three at St. Louis, Chicago took one 
and the Browns two. Then followed a contest 
at Pittsburgh, which was forfeited to Chicago 

A $15,000 Slide 89 

in six innings. The followers of the Browns 
always claimed that it was a species of rob- 
bery. Of the two games at Cincinnati, which 
closed the series, each took one, the final result 
being three apiece with one drawn. 

As has already been mentioned, Spalding's 
and Anson's suggestion for the 1886 series, of 
the " winner to take all " was eagerly snapped 
up by Comiskey. Chicago took the first tilt at 
home, but after this game they rapidly faded, 
but the bitterness exhibited set a record for 
world's series games. It was the best four out 
of seven and history insists that the series was 
decided on a wild pitch by Clarkson. Such is 
not in accordance with the facts, although its 
proponents may prove their point through the 
elastic interpretation of what constitutes a wild 
heave. Comiskey was there, he was partially 
responsible for the run, and got the ball that 
Clarkson pitched, so he should know. He dic- 
tated this: 

The score stood a tie at 3 to 3 in the 
tenth inning with Curt Welch on third. His 
own single, an error and an out had put 
him on the far corner. In order to worry 
Clarkson, who was pitching, Welch took a 
long lead off third, too long in fact, for 

90 " Commy " 

which I was partially responsible as I was 
coaching. On the first ball pitched Welch 
was so far away from the bag that Mike 
Kelly, who was catching, could have nailed 
him easily. Bushong had let it go by with- 
out offering to swing at it. 

It was then that Welch showed his usual 
brainwork. Curt figured that if he kept 
at the same risky distance from the bag 
Kelly would signal for a high ball on the 
inside in order to have the advantage of 
a quick throw to Burns. It turned out just 
like that. Clarkson burned one by Bushong's 
shirt and Kelly in his eagerness to get the 
ball away to catch Welch slightly fumbled 
it and it rolled about ten feet. Welch must 
have divined the fumble, for he was off like 
a flash towards the plate. Never in my life, 
I believe, have I seen a man go as fast. He 
seemed to skim over the ground. 

No one knew better than Kelly what that 
run would mean. Over $15,000 hinged on it. 
If Welch made it, it would probably be the 
day coach for manv of the White Stockings 
as they had backed themselves well if not 
wisely. If Kelly could get the ball on him 
Chicago still had a chance, not only at the 
game but at the series. If he lost the race, 

A $15,000 Slide 91 

all was over, as it would make the fourth 
win for us. 

As it actually happened Kelly never had a 
chance, either to get the man or the ball. 
As Welch slid into the plate I pounced on 
the ball. Kelly was reaching for it, but I 
beat him to it, as I was right on the heels 
of Curt. That ball is still in my possession, 
plated and boxed. 

An interval of just twenty years was to elapse 
before Comiskey would annex another world's 
title. In the following year, after another pen- 
nant had been flung to the breeze, the world's 
series, through the insistance of the fans in 
different parts of the country, and with the 
ready acquiescence of Von der Ahe, became a 
barn storming tour, Detroit winning after the 
teams had exhibited in Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, 
New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, 
Baltimore and Chicago, besides their own home 
towns. The series earned more coin than glory 
that fall. 

In 1888, with the fourth and last title for St. 
Louis, the Browns were beaten by the New 
York Giants in a memorable series, 6 games to 
4, the pitching of Tim Keefe for the Giants 
being the feature, this sterling hurler winning 

92 " Commy " 

every start and he pitched four out of the ten 

Von der Ahe's " special," with the attendant 
embellishments, probably had something to do 
with the defeat as even the strict disciplinary 
measures of the manager failed to keep the boys 
in check as long as the president insisted on 
paying all the bills, regardless of what was 
ordered from the menu. 



Giants of former days Comiskey's own story of 
the Browns Explains why they won four pen- 
nants Hard to keep them on the bench "Kid" 
Gleason 's reminiscences of the ' ' Old Roman ' ' 
Others pass judgment on "Commy." 

The era in which the Browns figured was 
a period equally divided between romance and 
cold-blooded deals. Men cheerfully went broke 
for an ideal while others did everything but 
commit murder for the sake of a dollar. It was 
the luck of the game that the ideal predom- 
inated and thus the sportsmanlike development 
of baseball overshadowed the financial. After 
the Civil War decade the game, like the coun- 
try as a whole, was largely in the maldng for 
a few years. Shift followed shift, rules were 
changed overnight, and the sport generally took 
on a new complexion. Then, as it happened 
and who shall explain it?: a race of supermen 
came to the front in baseball. Brawn and muscle 
were combined with gray matter to an extent 


94 " Commy " 

unknown in these latter days. Genius and the 
slugger worked hand in hand in perfecting the 
pastime so that little was left to the highly 
mechanical artists of today. 

The type of men engaged made it a red- 
blooded sport, and less time was spent in sizing up 
the " house " and figuring on next year's con- 
tract than is the case these days. It was a 
knockdown and drag-out on the field with few 
holds barred. No one asked for quarter and 
the game was never lost until the last man was 
out. A split finger, a lacerated leg or even a 
broken bone was not considered a passport to 
the hospital. Nothing short of crutches kept 
a man out of his position and marriage or death 
alone were considered of sufficient importance to 
warrant absence from the field. 

It is not the intention to single out the Browns 
and their leader to represent all that was great 
baseball in those days, as there were other giants 
abroad, but the St. Louis combination will, at 
least, serve as the main text. In the Hall of 
Fame which contained the old Chicago White 
Stockings, the famed Detroits, the Providence 
Grays, the herculean New Yorks and others of 
little less renown, the Browns size up pretty 
well. Comiskey, who has managed many a team 
since the days of the four-time winners, finds 

Coming of the Supermen 95 

an actual comparison with modern teams more 
or less an impossibility, mainly due to the dif- 
ference in rules. He dictated the following: 

I would not be on the level did I not 
confess that I always have believed that the 
old Browns were a great team, one of the 
greatest ever organized. In brains and 
punch they would measure up to the stand- 
ard of any team today, both individually 
and as a combination, but there is no pos- 
sible way to judge their effectiveness on a 
diamond today under modern rules. 

Before the Browns went out of existence 
the rules were perfected as they are found 
to-day but during the greater part of 
their existence the game was conducted 
under a code that radically differed from 
the modern style of play. The principal 
changes centered around the pitcher and there 
is no way of proving how Radbourne, 
Sweeney, Foutz, Caruthers, Spalding and 
others would have behaved at the present dis- 
tance and under the restrictions which govern 
the pitcher of to-day. Nor is it possible 
to judge how the Cicottes, Johnsons, Alex- 
anders and Ruths would have fared had they 
been compelled to pitch instead of throwing 

96 " Commy " 

or had they been permitted to employ the 
hop, step and jump, for instance. 

It is true that many of the star pitchers, 
under the old rules, overlapped into the 
next era, but it is not on record that any 
of the old-timers shone to any great extent. 
Many have argued that this proved con- 
clusively that the twirlers of the Eighties 
were not as effective as those of the Nine- 
ties. Not at all. The effectiveness was lost, 
partly because they had seen their best days 
and partly because it is hard for an old dog 
to learn new tricks. 

I had some great pitchers while in St. 
Louis. At first they only " pitched " the 
ball fifty feet. They had an allowance of 
six bases on balls which was neutralized 
to some extent by four strikes. Later on 
the ' ' throw ' became a free-for-all, over- 
hand or any style the pitcher chose. With 
the change in the throw also came the 
added freedom in the box and a Hop, step 
and jump was in order in 1886 with the 
pitcher's box seven feet long and four feet 
wide. Originally the pitcher was handi- 
capped by the privilege of the batsman in 
calling for a " high " or a " low " ball and 
no one to-day has any idea what that meant. 

Coming of the Supermen 97 

In 1887 the pitcher was chained down prac- 
tically to what he is today except as to dis- 
tance which was not lengthened until 1893. 
The four strike rule was changed back to 
three in 1888. Giving the batter a hit 
when he was sent to first on bases on balls 
was also done away with. 

Taking into consideration the different 
conditions which prevailed then it would not 
be fair actually to compare players of thirty 
and forty years ago with those of to-day. 
The human element alone should figure and 
taking this into consideration I do not have 
to apologize for the old Browns. They were 
composed of the greatest bunch of fighters 
which were ever brought together, and as 
for gameness they were surpassed by none. 

It might be mentioned that our real lineup 
during the most successful seasons was 
boiled down to ten or eleven men. Minor 
hurts were never taken into consideration 
and it would have to be broken bones to 
keep anyone out. As everybody on the team 
wanted to be in the game every day I had 
to use some diplomacy in getting the extra 
man or two to stick to the bench now and 
then. The pitcher who hurled an extra 
inning game one day would feel aggrieved if 

98 " Commy " 

he did not get a chance to repeat or to play 
in the outfield the following day. 

Such was the spirit of the men and in that 
lay the secret of the four championships. 
I would not seem to underrate the technical 
skill of such men as Gleason, Welch, Foutz, 
Caruthers, Bushong, Nichol, Hudson, Latham, 
O'Neill, Robinson and others of those who 
were with me. They were wonderful play- 
ers and trained under modern conditions 
would shine on any field. There was not 
a slow thinker in the lot, in fact it took 
some speed to keep up with the bunch in 
this department. 

The team from 1884 to the- close of 1887 
had everything needed. It had speed on the 
bases and in the field; it had enough slug- 
gers to balance artistic fielding and before 
it was broken up its team work was second 
to none in the United States. It was not 
overburdened with signals, as every member 
was expected to know just what to do in an 
emergency. The team at the start of the 
Association played a different style of game 
from most others. I have been given a 
certain amount of credit for this, but regard- 
less of that the team never was tied down 
by precedent. It constantly blasted its way 

Coming of the Supermen 99 

along new roads and thus we got the credit 
for being original. 

One of our strong points might he called 
the " open " game. The players were pulled 
" in " or " out " as occasion demanded and 
again we were praised for making the game 
spectacular. No one to-day would notice such 
departure as it would be considered part of 
the game. The pastime, however, was in the 
making and that is why the Browns cut such 
a large swath. They were always trying, 
not only to keep abreast of the times, but 
to keep a step or two ahead, and this con- 
ferred on us progressiveness. No player on 
the team was ever taken in by the same trick 
a second time and he would be considered 
dull were he not to improve upon it, to the 
disadvantage of him who originally played 
it on him. Every player simply had to keep 
his wits about him, for if he did not the 
guying to which he would be subjected 
would tend to wise him up. 

There were " boners " pulled by players 
in my younger days, but I hardly think that 
they were as glaring as to-day. The dis- 
grace was felt more keenly then than seems 
to be the case at present. We didn't seem 
to be able to stand the kidding which fol- 

100 " Commy " 

lowed a mistake as well as they do now. 
Perhaps we were more thin-skinned and 
thus saw to it that we didn't repeat. 

Our record, especially in fielding, did 
not look as artistic as that of some other 
combinations, but that was because no one 
was afraid to take chances. No one cared 
for errors, not if he knew that he attempted 
to make the play the right way. It was only 
when he shirked the ball that his teammates 
started to " ride " him, and I want to testify 
to the effectiveness of their " riding." They 
were wonders at it. 

Looking back over the statistics I believe, 
though, that the record in fielding was pretty 
good after our machine got to going. Eob- 
inson at second was as shifty as anyone in 
those days, Gleason at short was a wonder 
and Latham, although not the greatest third 
baseman in the world, was no slouch at play- 
ing the position, and he was valuable in 
many other ways, especially base running. 
The fans seemed to think that I did well 
enough at first. 

In the outfield I had one of the greatest 
of all fly chasers and base runners in Curt 
Welch, and one of the greatest sluggers in 
the history of the game in Tip O'Neill. In 

Coming of the Supermen 10 i 

1887, I believe it was, he hit fo,r an average 
of .492, the biggest percentage ever rung 
up in the major leagues, but it must be 
taken into consideration that in that year 
bases on balls counted as hits. Still when 
walks were not profitable Tip was there with 
the bat. 

Hugh Nicol, Foutz and Caruthers took 
turns in the outfield and were all handy men, 
but one of the most valuable on the team 
was Bushong, behind the bat. There was 
one of the gamest catchers I ever saw, one 
who never knew when he was beaten, or 
hurt either, for that matter. Taking Into 
account our base running, Welch's espe- 
cially, and Bushong 's throwing we always 
could worry the opposition both offensively 
and defensively. 

The men I have mentioned were with me 
early in my career. Later on came Hud- 
son, King, Chamberlin and Stivetts as pitch- 
ers; Boyle and Milligan, catchers, and the 
speedy McCarthy as an outfielder. I had 
other shifty players towards the close, but 
none who measured up to the original 

I have been asked many times to com- 
pare the Browns and Anson's White Stock- 

102 " Commy " 

ings of '85 and '86. Comparisons being 
odious I hesitate to go into details. Anson 
had a great team, one of the best I have 
ever seen. He had men of brains and 
originality in that outfit, men who could 
field and hit the ball with the best in the 
land. In Clarkson and Kelly he had one of 
the greatest batteries of all times, and Anson 
himself had demonstrated his right to lead 
the team. 

I also commanded a good team, I would 
even call it great, but perhaps, witn not 
quite as many outstanding stars as in the 
Chicago aggregation. We met in '85 and 
it was a draw a good many of the St. Louis 
fans regarded it as a victory for us. Again 
we clashed in 1886 and the Browns won 
decisively. Anson in his own book has 
passed judgment on his own team. I shall 
let the series of 4 to 2 speak for mine. 

Comiskey, it might be noticed, didn't say 
much of his own connection in discussing the 

Those who played with him or under him are 
not so chary. Bill Gleason, the original " Kid," 
is one of the latter. When he heard that I con- 
templated writing the life story of " Commy " 

Coming of the Supermen 103 

lie sent me the following and I give it as he 
wrote it: 

I am much pleased to hear you are writ- 
ing a story about Comiskey as I have often 
thought something of the kind would be 
very interesting to his many admirers. He 
and I were close friends in our younger 
days. Of course now our paths lie far apart 
but for nine years while we were with the 
Browns we roomed together, both in hotels 
and on the sleeping cars, and I have never 
found a friend since whom I could so love 
and respect. 

* * Commy ' ' was kind, generous and con- 
siderate and a winner. He never went to 
sleep at night until he had figured out 
how he was going to win the game the next 
day. As a player I consider him the best first 
baseman of his day, quick to judge and 
almost quicker to act. He played a deep 
first base and, covering much territory, the 
runners were kept busy watching him. He 
was great at holding the runner at first and 
the pitcher was saved a great deal of work, 
as, with " Commy " on the bag, he seldom 
had to leave the box. 

I don't know if it is known that 

104 " Commy " 

li Commy " was the means of the umpire 
judging the game from behind the pitcher. 
This happened at Cincinnati with Bob Fer- 
guson umpiring. He and Comiskey had an 
argument, Charlie claiming that the ' * ump ' ' 
didn't see the play or else that he gave the 
Browns the worst of the decision. Fergu- 
son, in a temper, went behind the pitcher, 
and, of course, could see all the bases better 
from there. From that experiment grew the 
double umpire system. 

Even as a young man he was a first class 
manager. Here is an illustration. In 1884 
we were scheduled to play an exhibition 
game in New Haven. Robinson, the second 
baseman, failed to report, and " Commy ' 
had only eight men (they didn't carry a 
coach-full of players then). He scoured the 
town for a player to fill out, and finally 
got an amateur whom he put into right field. 
He picked the right one, as the stranger 
was the means of winning the game in the 
ninth inning by catching a fly ball with two 
men gone, and it was a tough one at that. 

Comiskey was the first man I ever saw 
who slid head first to a base. He was a hard 
worker and always set his men an example 
of good team work, making sacrifice plays 

Coming of the Supermen 105 

and doing everything to win, but never 
thinking of himself. He also knew how to 
take a joke, as the following incident will 

During the season of 1888, while playing 
against the Brooklyns, we had our uniforms 
drying at a sporting club called the Ath- 
letics. During the night some members dis- 
tributed about a bushel of red pepper, fill- 
ing our knickers and shoes. They donated 
about half a pound to " Pommy " and after 
once on the field we only touched the high 
spots. The weather was beastly warm, which 
contributed to the speed of the Brownies, 
who were up in the air most of the time, 
but we got even by winning the game, 3 to 2. 
" Commy " took the whole thing good- 
naturedly, probably secretly rejoicing at the 
pep displayed by the players. 

There was always good discipline among 
the Browns, but occasionally some of the boys 
would take advantage of the manager. Comis- 
key was particular about the boys being in 
bed early but occasionally they played hookey. 
Robinson, for instance, would ostentatiously 
take his key from the rack and retire only to 
slide down the fire escape. It was a lively 
bunch with which ' * Commy ' ' had to contend, 

106 " Commy " 

but they all liked him and loved him as a 
brother, as he was on the square with every- 

Others of Comiskey's friends have contributed 
their appreciation, all couched in a similar vein, 
so apparently he was much the same in the red 
pepper days as he is today. 

A year ago John B. Sheridan, a veteran St. 
Louis newspaperman, wrote this: 

' * Charles Comiskey is the greatest baseball man 
I have ever known. ' ' 

Mr. Sheridan has had an opportunity to know 
them all, and as he has not always been eulogistic 
of the " Old Roman," his opinion may be 
regarded as impartial. He also knew him best in 
the days of the four-time winners. 

And this from the pen of Charles W. Murphy, 
the man who ran a shoestring into a million, as 
owner of the Chicago Cubs : 

" In my judgment he (Comiskey) is far and 
away the most famous figure ever connected with 
baseball since its start as a public amusement. 
But for him the rivalry between the National and 
American leagues, which has been a wonderful 
tonic for the sport, would never have been." 

Murphy, who was a bitter rival of " Commy 's ' : 
for years, could hardly be accused of writing the 

Coming of the Supermen 107 

above to ingratiate himself, either with the " Old 
Roman " or with the newspaper for which he 
wrote it. 

It has been the fixed purpose of the author from 
the first to permit the acts of " Commy " to pro- 
nounce their own eulogy and this shall be adhered 
to, yet the diversion above would serve as an 
alibi, if any are needed, for the superlatives, which 
have been used in commenting on his connection 
with the Browns. Comiskey has refrained in the 
past from writing a line of autobiography, and it 
is only by piecing together scraps of information 
from different sources that his real worth as a 
player and leader may be arrived at. 



Players and magnates lock horns and war follows 
"Commy" parts company with Von der Ahe and 
puts team in Chicago Big salary but no guar- 
antee Mike Kelly, a blank contract and $10,000 
Brotherhood backers stampeded Players' League 
goes to smash. 

With the close of the 1889 season came the 
defection of the players and the virtual breaking 
up of the American Association and the National 
League. For Comiskey it meant the severing of 
partnership with Von der Ahe and his removal 
to his native city. The two became associated 
again for one year but the close relationship which 
had existed between them never was renewed even 
though Comiskey later overlooked the many 
slights the owner had put upon his manager from 
>87 on. 

The causes leading up to the revolt were similar 
in character to those which had led to th.3 forma- 
tion of the American Association, viz., the dicta- 
torial and arbitrary attitude of the National 


Revolt of the Brotherhood 109 

League, a course repeated ten years later, and 
which came near finishing the parent organiza- 
tion. Territorial restrictions, a stifling of compe- 
tition and general greed, had precipitated war 
between the leagues. With the players, accord- 
ing to their own manifesto, only the latter figured. 

Led by John N. Ward, now an attorney in New 
York, but in the early days a famous baseball 
player, there had been organized in 1885 " The 
National Brotherhood of Baseball Players, ' ' a fra- 
ternal organization, the declared purpose of which 
had to do with the individual players without 
reference to the owners. In the same year, how- 
ever, the magnates passed a rule limiting player's 
salaries to $2,000 a year. When, after promises 
had been made, the owners failed to repeal the 
obnoxious limit, the dispute came to a head in the 
winter of 1889. The facts of the case were that 
the plan was elaborated on Spalding's trip around 
the world, something which came near being 
duplicated twenty-five years later on a similar 
world tour. The difference was that players fig- 
ured in the first while envious magnates were the 
headliners in the second. 

In a manifesto to the public the players 
explained their reasons for their revolutionary 
move. They made their principal attack on the 
reserve clause, while the alleged bad faith of the 

110 "Commy" 

owners was not overlooked. The financial side and 
the integrity of the sport were made as prominent 
as possible with these words: 

There was a time when the League 
(National) stood for integrity and fair deal- 
ing. To-day it stands for dollars and cents. 
Once it looked to the elevation of the game 
and an honest exhibition of the sport; to-day 
its eyes are upon the turnstile. Men have come 
into the business for no other motive than to 
exploit it for every dollar in sight. Measures 
intended for the good of the game have been 
perverted into instruments for wrong. 

This was answered in a lengthy counter-mani- 
festo by the National League, the report being 
signed by A. G. Spalding, John B, Day and John 
I. Rogers, one of whom later proved the contention 
they made, that it was possible to go broke in the 
game. The telling argument in the answer was the 
revelation that in the five years just preceding, 
the eight club owners had drawn down only $150,- 
000 in dividends while in that time the players 
had received $1,500,000 in salaries. 

Regardless of words the issue was joined 
and the two organizations went into a clinch for 
the country's baseball patronage in the spring of 
1890. It is enough to draw attention to the fact 

Revolt of the Brotherhood 111 

that the Chicago National League club lost ten of 
its most prominent players and New York twelve, 
to show how hard hit were the different teams. 
Anson, Burns and Hutchinson were the only ones 
left on the Chicago team, the " Cap ' : being 
deserted by Pfeffer, Dwyer, Tener, Bastian, Bart- 
son, Darling, Farrell, Williamson, Ryan and Duffy. 

The American Association was hit in equal pro- 
portion to the National and none suffered harder 
than Von der Ahe's club, which lost Comiskey, 
O'Neill, Latham, Boyle and King, the majority 
of whom went to make up the Chicago Brother- 
hood team of which Comiskey became captain and 

Ample backing was obtained for the Chicago 
team and a fine ball park was built at the corner 
of Wentworth avenue and 35th street. Twenty 
years later the captain-manager of the one-year 
team came into possession of the very grounds on 
which he and his fellow seceders cavorted in 1890. 
The imposing stand and other improvements of 
the early days had then disappeared, but it is 
likely that the cost of all would not have equaled 
the outlay for the fence which surrounds Comis- 
key Park of to-day. 

The team which Comiskey was able to put into 
the field consisted of himself at first base, Fred 
Pfeffer at second, Charles Bastian and Ed Wil- 

112 " Commy " 

liamson at short, Arlie Latham at third, Jimmy 
Byan, Hugh Duffy and Tip 'Neill in the outfield, 
Charles Farrell catcher and third base, Silver 
King, Mark Baldwin, Frank Dwyer and Charlie 
Bartson, pitchers, and Jack Boyle, the star catcher. 
With this team " Commy " was unable to finish 
higher than fourth, which, better than anything 
else, demonstrated the class of the revolutionary 
cohorts. The Brotherhood teams wound up the 
season in the following order: Boston, Brooklyn, 
New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, 
Cleveland and Buffalo. 

The question has frequently been asked why 
Comiskey quit the Browns when, to a man of his 
far-seeing vision, the venture must have been 
foredoomed to failure. His answer: " I couldn't 
do anything else and be on the level with the 
boys," admits of no argument. Comiskey had 
nothing to gain and everything to lose through 
the move. No one needed to write it down for 
him. He knew it before he separated himself from 
an assured $8,000 salary, which he was drawing 
from Von der Ahe, to accept an equal amount 
which, despite guarantees, might in the end turn 
into stage money. 

The decision to cast his lot with the players 
came after he had been assured that he would be 
with a team in Chicago. It had been his ambi- 

FRANK WING, cartoonist on the staff of the St. Paul Dispatch, and 
author of the well-known "The Fotygraft Album," is guilty of the 
above addition to the Comiskey gallery. Says Frank: 

This here's Charley Comiskey, th' baseball man, when he lived here 
in St. Paul and managed th' Saints, as they call our team. Charley, he 
ust t' hang 'round Nick Weiler's place, down th' street here a ways, 
and play smear, ten cents a crack. He allus laid down a dollar, and 
ef he lost it, he quit, but ef he won, he kep' goin'. And one time, why 
Jim Donnelly, th' undertaker, he gits by th' police and drives his coffin 
wagon onto th' ball grounds when th' Saints was a-losin', and sings 

"Hello, there. Charley! How's tricks?" 

Charley, he jist gives one look, then he calls a p'liceman over and 
says t' him : 

" Git that there stiff-cart off'm these grounds before she hoodoos us 
fer keeps!" he says. 

The p'liceman, he gives pore old Jim th' run; and would yuh believe 
it? the Saints won th' game! 

Revolt of the Brotherhood 113 

tion, ever since he first chased the hall on the 
prairies, to some day play on a regular team in 
his native city. He wanted to be among his former 
neighbors but fate decreed that another decade 
should intervene before he would be permanently 
" at home." 

As is now history the Brotherhood program 
proved a fiasco all along the line, but to Comiskey 
the lesson was valuable. It became clear to him 
before the season ended that co-operative baseball 
was an impossibility and he kept this in mind and 
profited accordingly. He early discovered that 
player and promoter could not travel in the same 
harness. As the former had at best only a hazy 
idea of the financial end and the latter knew 
little or nothing of the technical side, clashes were 
bound to occur. 

The players rightly argued that no one came 
through the turnstiles for a glimpse of the mag- 
nates. They themselves were the attraction, and 
this attitude lent itself to an impaired vision 
where the men on the field saw twice as many in 
the grandstand as the turnstiles tabulated. To 
them it was always a paying crowd, regardless of 
the ' ' paper ' ' represented, and thus the suspicion 
often got abroad that the capitalists " held out " 
on them. Having for many years traveled with 
baseball teams I can bear testimony to the fact 

114 " Commy " 

that this visual defect still afflicts our present day 
heroes, and, it might be added, newspaper statis- 
ticians and fans as well. 

So, in 1890, the leader of the Chicago Brother- 
hood team decided that in future only one vote 
would be cast in any club that he was financially 
interested in. He adhered to this principle, even 
though the experiment in his minor league ven- 
tures proved costly and left him with a flattened 
pocketbook for his re-entry into Chicago. 

It was not entirely the fault of the players that 
the Brotherhood failed. The immediate reason for 
the final breakup was the fact that some of the 
most enthusiastic backers wouldn't stay hitched. 
The New York and Brooklyn clubs, during the 
winter of '90- '91, entered into negotiations with 
the National League, a move which eventually had 
the effect of causing all the rest of the clubs to 
rush for cover. 

The * ' selling out ' ' process completed, it became 
theoretically a return to the ante-bellum status 
with the National League and the American Asso- 
ciation still working under the agreement formu- 
lated in 1883. The players were to return to the 
clubs from which they originally hailed, and in 
1891 Comiskey again became the head of the St. 
Louis Browns. 

Hardly had the rival factions kissed and made 

Revolt of the Brotherhood 115 

up before war broke out anew. This time the 
National League and the American Association 
went into a clinch. The latter accused the for- 
mer of bad faith in permitting the Pittsburgh 
and Boston clubs respectively to sign Bierbauer 
and Stovey. These players had originally been 
on the reserve list of the Philadelphia Athletics 
but, as it was claimed, had not appeared on the 
roster as turned out at the time of reorganiza- 
tion. After the Association had lost the case 
on appeal to the joint governing board, it 
announced the abrogation of the National Agree- 
ment and there started a fight to the finish. 

To the credit of the game it should be pointed 
out that the players seldom lent themselves to 
the machinations of the magnates. Almost sol- 
idly they stood pat when it came to a question 
of honor, as was proven time and again during 
the reason. Few jumped from the Players ' 
League to organized baseball but in each case 
wilful misrepresentation swayed them. How 
blandishment failed to influence others is 
related by A. G. Spalding himself, then at the 
head of the National League war committee. 

According to Mr. Spalding it was figured that 
getting Mike Kelly back in the fold would be a 
ten strike and so he was approached. A $10,000 
check and a blank contract were laid before him. 

116 "Commy" 

The contract Spalding authorized Kelly to fill 
in himself. If he accepted he was to leave that 
night to joint the Boston Nationals. 

" His face blanched, " writes Spalding in 
" America's National Game." 

" Does that mean that I am to join the 
League? Quit the Brotherhood? Go back on 
the boys? " queried Kelly. 

" That's what it means," was the answer. 

It must be remembered that Kelly always had 
had the reputation of being chronically broke, 
of continually depending on the club treasurer 
for an advance and it was a big temptation to 
" the King." He asked an hour and a half to 
think it over. Then he started for a walk but 
returned on time and made this announcement: 

11 I have decided not to accept. I want the 
$10,000 bad enough but I've thought the matter 
over and I can't go back on the boys." 

Then he wound up the conversation, according 
to Mr. Spalding, by borrowing $500, but he never 
wavered in his allegiance to the Brotherhood. 

With the new war under way the Association 
invaded Cincinnati for a starter and the fran- 
chise was turned over to A. L. Johnson, the 
Cleveland traction magnate. On the eve of the 
race Johnson sold the club to the National 
League, but the American Association succeeded 

Revolt of the Brotherhood 117 

in tying up in the courts the $30,000 purchase 
money. The self-same Mike Kelly, who in the 
previous season had refused to sell out the 
Brotherhood, was put in charge of the team hut 
failed to make good as a manager and the club 
proved a sporting and financial bloomer, the 
team being transferred to Milwaukee before the 
end of the season. 

Nothing daunted by reverses Comiskey organ- 
ized his motley crew in a last desperate effort to 
give St. Louis another pennant winner. By keep- 
ing a tight rein on the players and jollying the 
more and more eccentric Von der Ahe, he suc- 
ceeded in holding the team together during that 
final season in St. Louis when raids by rival 
league clubs were of daily occurrence. Despite 
adversities which dogged his footsteps he landed 
the Browns in second place, Boston annexing the 
last championship of the old Association. 

The Browns shuffled off with the following 
team: Jack Boyle and Tom Dolan, catchers; 
Clark Griffith and Jack Stivetts, pitchers ; Charles 
Comiskey, first base; William Robinson, second 
base; Danny Lyons, third base; Shorty Fuller, 
short stop; W. E. Hoy, left field; Curt Welch, 
center field; Thomas McCarthy, right field. 

The season left several of the American Asso- 
ciation clubs on the financial rocks with as many 

118 "Commy" 

of the National League in no better condition. 
The Association, though groggy, decided to carry 
on the fight the next year but the National, seeing 
a chance to get into undisputed possession of the 
field, conducted a series of secret " conversa- 
tions " with the weakest of the flock. These 
prospered to the extent that in December of that 
year the deal for the amalgamation of the two 
leagues was consummated at Indianapolis. 

The finishing touches included the buying out 
of four clubs for $135,000 and taking in the other 
four thus making a twelve-club circuit of the 
National League. A newly organized club in 
Chicago, headed by Fred Pfeffer, the former 
White Stocking and Brotherhood star and who is 
still making this city his home, was one of those 
absorbed. Those bought outright were Boston, 
Milwaukee, Columbus and Washington. Balti- 
more, St. Louis and Louisville became full 
fledged members of the older league as also did 
Washington, the latter franchise having been 
purchased by the Wagner Brothers, who had 
sold their Philadelphia club to the National 

The double shift landed Comiskey with the 
National League for the first and only time, the 
maker of champions signing a three-year contract 
to manage the Cincinnati Beds for John T. Brush, 

Revolt of the Brotherhood 119 

who had gained control of the team in that mar- 
velous shuffle at Indianapolis. 

At this particular time Comiskey was bent on 
laying up something for a rainy day and Cincin- 
nati represented the best pickings. He could no 
longer remain with Von der Ahe, who had 
acquired the fatal habit of regarding himself as 
a baseball man. Through diplomacy and the 
careful use of the influence he had acquired over 
him in former days, Comiskey had succeeded in 
keeping " der boss president " at arms length 
during the final Association season but with the 
reorganization the two came to the parting of 
the ways. 

The Association being no more, the National 
League presented the only opportunity, but it was 
with great reluctance that Comiskey marched 
under its banner. He was even free at that time 
with his opinion of the magnates, most of whom 
he cordially disliked. He did his best to give 
Cincinnati a winner but he never could become 
either enamored of, or accustomed to the peculiar 
brand of politics which regulated the affairs of 
the parent organization at that time. 

Having grown up with it he always entertained 
a warm regard for the old Association and he 
could never forget the virtual scuttling of the 
craft, which partly accounted for the unbounded 

120 " Commy " 

enthusiasm with which he entered the fray in 
1900. To him the deed had had a touch of the 
piratical about it with the Jolly Roger replacing 
the emblem of sportsmen at the mast head. But 
with a family to support, sentimental considera- 
tions had to give way to the practical. Were he 
to move over to the camp of the enemy his tent 
would be pitched far away from the scenes of his 
former triumphs, and thus he transferred his 
chattels to Eedland and St. Louis saw him no 



Comiskey switches from brown to red stockings 
Lauds John T. Brush Byron Bancroft Johnson is 
''discovered" Western League is organized 
' ' Commy ' ' becomes his own boss Spends five years 
in St. Paul as minor league magnate "Izzy" and 
"Pat" in the lineup. 

Cincinnati had been a member of the National 
League two years when Comiskey moved to the 
Queen City. It had gained little renown through 
the connection and the fans still referred with 
reverance to the surpassing days of 1869 and 
1882, the former year having been made glorious 
by the unparalleled triumps of the undefeated 
Eed Stockings while the latter marked the period 
of the only pennant which had flown in Redland 
during two decades. 

The success of the new manager was only 
mediocre. Although he did no better than his 
predecessors his record was no worse than those 
who followed him. Until the coming of Pat 
Moran, in this year of grace, 1919, Cincinnati has 


122 " Commy " 

been the slough of despond for every manager 
except Charles Snyder, who led the team which 
captured the American Association pennant in 

Many have speculated on the reason for the 
chanipionless belt on the American baseball map, 
which embraces four cities Washington, Cin- 
cinnati, Louisville and St. Louis. Connie Mack 
of the present-day Athletics and Clark Griffith of 
the Washington team collaborated to solve it and 
the solution was the weather, but neither could 
oifer any explanation for the four time winners 
in St. Louis nor the fact that Louisville has been 
the cock of the walk in the new American Asso- 

11 A team in St. Louis and Washington must 
be 25 per cent better than any other in order to 
win a pennant," was Mack's deduction to which 
Griffith acquiesced. 

' ' The heat in those cities has a weakening influ- 
ence of the players and their strength is sapped 
before the middle of the season is reached, ' ' Mack 
is credited with having said. 

Accepting this argument at its face value the 
old Browns must have been a wonderful aggrega- 
tion. Taking it for granted that they were 25 
per cent stronger than any other team in the 
Association and tacking on the victories over 

" Commy " Becomes an Owner 123 

Anson's wonderful legion and they must indeed 
have been a race of giants. 

Neither Mack nor Griffith mentioned Cincinnati 
or Louisville but those who have had an oppor- 
tunity to spend part of the heated season in either 
city, know well enough that they compare favor- 
ably with Washington and St. Louis. Comiskey 
himself does not attach undue importance to the 
hot weather theory and he does not believe that 
the weather had anything to do with his inability 
to win a flag for Cincinnati. That the mental 
atmosphere was not congenial may be taken for 
granted and that he worked for a man who knew 
little about the fine points of the game is matter 
of history. 

John T. Brush, who succeeded to the ownership 
of the club in the winter of 1891, was best known 
as a successful clothing merchant although he 
had been the controlling factor in the Indianapolis 
Club of the National League and had fathered the 
classification salary rule which was the immediate 
cause of the players* revolt. Being an expert on 
woolens did not prevent Brush from rising to the 
eminence of the premier baseball politician in the 
National League and he was supreme in that field 
until his death. 

The Brush tendency to pare down the salaries 
of the players, which had been inflated to a 

124 " Commy " 

ruinous degree towards the close of the Eighties, 
was not parsimony but was a measure for the good 
of the league as a whole. Brush himself was as 
liberal in his dealings with his players as the 
majority of the magnates of his time, but his name 
was anathema to the rank and file, principally 
because of his lack of sympathy for the indi- 
vidual. He was pictured as imperious and wily 
and he was all of the latter but he lacked the 
attributes of a czar. Incidentally sporting writers 
dubbed him as the original * * gumshoe ' ' magnate 
in the game. Comiskey thought differently of 
his new boss and, although the majority of his 
personal friends were more or less at outs with 
the Cincinnati owner, who later became the con- 
trolling factor in the New York Giants, the ' ' Old 
Eoman ' ' always insisted that the merchant- 
magnate was open and above-board in his dealings 
with everybody. 

" Mr. Brush was one of the best men I ever 
worked for," said Comiskey, " and, although he 
could not be considered an expert so far as the 
playing end was concerned, he knew more about 
the game than the majority of the owners of his 
time, and what he did not know he was willing 
to learn from those who did. In the politics of 
the game he was in a class by himself, being one 
of the brainiest men ever connected with the sport. 

" Commy " Becomes an Owner 125 

1 * There was nothing stingy or mean about him, 
but there were few players who could put any- 
thing over on him. He always treated me with 
every consideration and when I left him he 
assured me that a place would be open for me as 
soon as I had gone broke. He tried his best to 
dissuade me from going to St. Paul, which he 
insisted was the graveyard among the minors, 
but having gotten used to cemeteries it was all 
the same to me. When he failed to change my 
mind he ended up our conversation with this 
remark : 

" < "When you are broke come back here and if, 
in the meantime, you need any help let me know. ' 

" The fact that he became the most uncom- 
promising opponent of the American League later 
on does not detract from the estimation in which 
I hold his memory. Regardless of the enemies he 
made our own league was solid against him, 
including myself I still think of him as one of 
the biggest men that the game has produced. ' ' 

The three-year " sentence " to Cincinnati was 
fraught with tremendous consequences for the 
sport. It was during this period that the plans 
for the American League the organization 
which was to revolutionize baseball and make it 
truly national in character were developed. 

Prior to his coming to Ohio Comiskey had 

126 " Commy " 

formed the acquaintance of a young newspaper 
man from Cincinnati, one Byron Bancroft John- 
son, at that time sporting editor of Murat 
Halsted's Commercial Gazette. Johnson admired 
Comiskey both as a player and as a man, while 
the latter in turn recognized in the peppery writer 
qualities that were soon to make their imprint on 
the game. Johnson, however, was no worshipper 
of John T. Brush, regarding the Indianapolis 
merchant as an interloper and a factor inimical to 
the best interest of the sport. The dislike was 
mutual and, although later a formal truce was 
patched up, the feud between the two lasted until 
the death of Mr. Brush. 

The sporting writer, younger in years than Cin- 
cinnati's newest guest, despite his distrust of the 
owner, never wavered in his allegiance to the 
manager. The partnership then formed has never 
been sundered and the mutual friendship was the 
basis for the prosperous condition of the sport 
today. The disagreements which have peri- 
odically come to the surface always have been 
more apparent than real and, regardless of per- 
sonal differences which have developed, Johnson 
and Comiskey have stood shoulder to shoulder 
for the betterment of the game for almost a 
quarter of a century. 

The antipathy, which Brush felt towards 

" Commy " Becomes an Owner 127 

1 'Ban " eventually resulted in the formation of 
the rival league and Brush himself unconsciously 
became the biggest booster for the emerging 
Goliath. The trenchant pen which Johnson 
wielded gave the Indianapolis-Cincinnati magnate 
many an uneasy hour and he was not adverse to 
giving him other employment should the change 
take him out of Cincinnati. When Comiskey 
suggested to his employer that " Ban " would be 
a good man for the presidency of the Western 
League, Brush was torn by conflicting emotions. 
He would like to separate Johnson from his news- 
paper job if this could be accomplished without 
showing any favors. If the Western League posi- 
tion would keep him out of Cincinnati, well and 
good. If it should prove too big for him, so much 
the better, as in that case he would be discredited. 

When the day arrived on which a choice would 
have to be made, Brush, who owned the Indian- 
apolis club, missed his train. The other delegates 
considered Comiskey as representing the wishes of 
the Cincinnati magnate and cast their votes for 
Johnson and thus launched the career of one of 
the most remarkable executives that the baseball 
game has known. 

Taking the moves which led up to the formation 
of the American League in their logical sequence, 
beginning with the organization of the Western 

128 " Commy " 

League, the conviction is forced upon the his- 
torian that Comiskey was the real founder of the 
only rival that the old National League ever had. 

As early as 1893 the "Old Eoman " had 
mentally drafted an enlarged Western League. It 
had its beginning on a trip in the South. After 
listening to tales of poverty poured into his ears 
by Southern League managers, Comiskey sug- 
gested to a number, all personal friends, that up 
North good baseball territory was going begging. 
They took him at his word and in the following 
year several moved their chattels across the Mason 
and Dixon line and the Western League came into 

The circuit over which Johnson first presided in 
1894 was modest in its scope and territory, con- 
sisting of Sioux City, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, 
Kansas City, Toledo, Indianapolis, Detroit and 

The real organizer being under contract to the 
Cincinnati club, was unable to realize his ambition 
of becoming an owner until his agreement with 
Brush expired. Immediately after the 1894 sea- 
son he bought the Sioux City franchise and moved 
the team, or what was left of it, to St. Paul. The 
good wishes of Brush went with his manager, 
although he did his best to persuade " Commy ' 
not to make the leap. An even more attractive 


contract than he had enjoyed was put before him, 
but the manager turned down a sure thing for 
the dubious privilege of becoming his own boss. 

The St. Paul venture made " Commy " rich in 
experience but poor in purse. The size of his bank 
roll necessitated rigid economy and the strength 
of the team was in direct ratio to the resources 
back of it. He did not make a splurge, but 
endeavored to break even. 

It has always been the contention of Comiskey 
that the only useful owner in baseball has been 
the one who has been through the mill as a player 
and manager, and the sentiment has not been in 
disparagement of that host of sportsmen-capi- 
talists who have had a hand in upbuilding the 
game. It is simply a conviction with ' ' Commy, ' ' 
born from experience. 

1 1 There has been many a good loser in baseball 
who never slid into a base, ' ' commented Comiskey 
once, " but the man I would rather see behind a 
club when it means a fight to a finish is one who 
learned the game on the field. That kind of man 
will stand to lose his last dollar without a whimper 
while one who regards the game as an investment 
is generally among the first to pull out. Sentiment 
must have equal weight with business judgment. ' ' 

A choice story supporting this theory was cir- 
culated in the early days of the American League, 

130 " Commy " 

when Ban Johnson would turn up with a new 
bunch of capitalist-backers at every meeting. 

There had been a change of owners in Detroit 
and the enthusiastic " Ban " was congratulating 
the rest of the magnates over the acquisition of 
Samuel F. Angus, who was a power in the financial 
world. Comiskey listened intently and then, prob- 
ably having in mind his experiences in the 
Brotherhood days when some of the wealthiest 
backers of the players were first to run for cover, 
dryly remarked : 

' ' One more millionaire will break the American 

" Commy " never has changed his viewpoint 
and that is why he has always been willing to 
back practical baseball men to the limit of his 
ability, while avoiding entangling alliances with 
men of money. It is doubtful if there is any other 
owner in baseball who has backed more minor 
-league clubs than has Comiskey. It has been a 
habit with him when some of his veteran players 
have started to slip to offer them their choice of 
some minor league club. I know that this hap- 
pened on at least three different occasions. 

11 Go out and pick your club and I will back 
you," would be " Commy 's " injunction. " If 
you make any money it is yours; if there is a 
deficit at the end of the season I will make it up. ' ' 

" Commy " Becomes an Owner 131 

As the player-manager was assured a regular 
salary there could be no risk. 

Comiskey himself enjoyed no such assurances 
when he went to St. Paul in 1895. With him it 
was sink or swim. Everything he had was 
invested in the club, and the equipment of his ball 
park compelled him to become chummy with the 
bankers. He organized the best team that his 
resources permitted, with himself as captain, man- 
ager and president. When necessary he also 
played first base. 

His best years in St. Paul were his first and his 
last 1895 and 1899. In each of these seasons he 
finished second after flag races which still are 
talked about in the Northwest. The club did 
poorly in 1896, but moved up to third position in 
1897. The following year found the Saints in 
fourth place. 

11 Commy 's " first season in St. Paul was one 
to try his soul. After his first trip, on which he 
lost seventeen straight games, he returned home 
to find that an injunction had been issued against 
him preventing Sunday games on the grounds on 
which he was then playing. A reporter on a local 
paper broke the news to him on his return to 
the city. 

" Oh, is that all," commented Comiskey. 
" They have only stopped me from playing one 

132 " Commy " 

day a week. I didn't know but that they would 
restrain me from playing on the other six. ' ' 

Then after building a new ' * Sunday park ' ' he 
whipped his team into winning condition and 
finished second at the end of the season. 

While in St. Paul Comiskey picked up two 
recruits who later figured prominently in major 
league pennant races. These were Frank Isbell 
and Eoy Patterson. " Izzy " in time justified 
" Commy's " judgment by becoming one of the 
great first basemen of the game, while Patterson 
did more than his share in winning the first two 
flags for the " Old Roman," by his pitching. 

Taking few into his confidence Comiskey applied 
his mind to expansion as soon as he assumed the 
title of president. Needing more time to plan, and 
finding that his executive duties interfered with 
his playing, first base saw him less and less. He 
put on his uniform for the last time in 1898, after 
eighteen years on the initial corner, winding up 
his career as the most finished first sacker of his 

American League is born Spalding furnishes brief 
for new rival Comiskey enters Chicago and en- 
counters opposition from the National League 
Baseball historians explain reasons for invasion 
Telegram by Johnson immediate cause of break 
Battles in court follow. 

An unyielding attitude on the part of the 
National League hastened the entry of rival 
teams into Chicago and other major league cities. 
It compelled Comiskey later to declare for open 
warfare against some of his best friends. He 
preferred to expand along more peaceful lines. 
The financial risks were great. The ruins of the 
old Association, the Union and Brotherhood 
leagues still blurred the baseball horizon. Yet 
out of the wreckage of blasted hopes and dissi- 
pated fortunes there still remained something to 
be salvaged sentiment. 

Without attributing too great a measure of 
altruistic motives to the founders of the American 
League, it was this asset which was capitalized to 
the full by its organizers. Appeals to the fans 


134 " Commy " 

to help save the game were combined with busi- 
ness sagacity, a certain amount of bluff and 
elastic bank accounts. Also into the new league 
came men who were in the prime of life, quick 
on the mental trigger and whirlwinds in action. 
These were more than a match for the older 
heads and proved adepts in taking advantage of 
every false move of the older organization. 

No one has presented a more effective brief for 
the American League nor vindicated its pro- 
moters better than one who was allied with the 
opposition A. G. Spalding, famed as a player, 
manager, owner and merchant. In explaining 
" Freedmanism, " which at this particular time 
was rampant in the National League, he penned 
these words in his book " America's National 

Some years before the opening of the 
Twentieth Century the National League had 
begun to lose prestige with the public. This 
loss of caste was not due to a failure on the 
part of the league to correct abuses. It had 
achieved wonders in that respect. It had 
absolutely driven out gambling and gamblers. 

It had done away with the drinking 


The trouble now was not with gamblers or 

White Sox and War 135 

with players, but with club officials, generally 
termed " magnates," and it will be readily 
understood how difficult a matter it was to 
deal with them. Especially was it hard to 
reach cases where there was no actual viola- 
tion of baseball law just personal cussed- 
ness and disregard for the future welfare of 
the game. 

Soon after the American sport became 
established as a national pastime, and was 
showing for its promoters a balance on the 
right side of the ledger, a certain clique came 
into the league for purposes of pelf. They 
at once let it be known by their acts that 
they were in baseball for what they could get 
out of it. They were absolutely devoid of 
sentiment, cared nothing for the integrity or 
perpetuity of the game beyond the limits of 
their individual control thereof. With these 
men it was simply a mercenary question of 
dollars and cents. Everything must yield to 
the one consideration of inordinate greed. 

Comiskey never missed an opportunity of 
" kidding " the opposition magnates on their 
slippery tactics when the opportunity offered. 
After the first joint meeting between the two 
leagues August Herrmann of Cincinnati, who had 

136 " Commy " 

only lately came into the organization, exclaimed, 
with some show of perturbation, while standing 
in the lobby of a New York hotel, that he had 
lost his watch. 

" Well, Garry, don't get excited about it," said 
Comiskey. " You will get used to it. Didn't you 
just come out of a National League session? " 

In addition to internal feuds and distrust 
among the members, the National League had 
been burdened with a twelve-club incubus. With 
the expiration of the ten-year agreement in 1900 
plans had been set on foot to reduce the circuit 
to eight clubs. This move had been anticipated 
by Comiskey, Johnson and their partners and 
they planned to take advantage of the readjust- 
ment. In the reorganization Cleveland, Balti- 
more, Louisville and Washington were abandoned 
by the National. The Western offered to buy 
the National property in Cleveland if it would be 
permitted to put a club in Chicago. There was 
ready acquiescence in the former proposal but 
violent opposition developed to the placing a 
club in Chicago by Comiskey. It was at this 
juncture that Ban Johnson started his campaign 
of " education " and Comiskey his of good fel 

Frequent meetings in Chicago, which was made 
the real headquarters of the new American 

White Sox and War 137 

League, as it had been of the old Western, offered 
opportunities of getting the case before the public. 
Except that each city was promised a winner, the 
financial end was subordinated to the sentimental 
and, to the everlasting credit of the American 
League founders and those who followed, this has 
been kept to the fore from that day to this. Many 
may differ but the present high standard of the 
sport justifies the conclusions reached. 

At the first rumblings of invasion magnates in 
the National prepared for the fray. They were 
in no condition to fight, due mainly to costly rows 
among themselves, and thus it early simmered 
down to a game of bluff. At this two could play 
and among the champion performers could be 
counted the former Cincinnati sporting writer. 

At the time Comiskey first publicly broached 
his intention of putting a club in Chicago James 
A. Hart was president of the National League 
club there. Hart and Comiskey were well 
acquainted. The former had been secretary of 
the old Louisville. Association team while Com- 
iskey was manager of the Browns. He was one 
of the wheelhorses of the National and knew the 
politics of the game from A to Z. He was alse 
one of the few who sensed the plans of the new 
league but, ajs he afterwards admitted, he failed 
to gauge their actual effect on baseball in general. 

138 " Commy " ; i 


Knowing Comiskey as he did Hart was positive 
in his own mind, as he expressed it to the writer, 
that once the American landed in Chicago it 
would only be a matter of time before the old 
league would find rival teams in the majority of 
its cities. This fear was an incentive to him in 
trying to keep Comiskey out of Chicago, his argu- 
ment against admission being based on what was 
regarded as an axiom in the National that no 
city could support two ball clubs. 

Mr. Hart lived to see two clubs prosper in 
Chicago, with the receipts of each far in excess 
of those which obtained when a single club was 
the rule. Mr. Hart retired from the game before 
the experiment had actually been put to a lasting 
test. He died while this volume of reminiscences 
of his greatest rival was being written. He 
passed away with no animosity towards the ' ' Old 
Boman," whom he freely conceded was one of the 
commanding figures in baseball. 

Frequent conferences during the winter of 1900 
between Comiskey and Hart failed to effect a 
working agreement, although the former had, 
from the beginning, announced that he would put 
a club in Chicago. Naturally the majority of 
Hart's fellow owners made his case their own and 
the threat was conveyed to the American League 
that protection would be withdrawn were the 

White Sox and War 139 

organization to persist in invading reserved ter- 
ritory. President Johnson's intimation that his 
clubs were in no need of guardianship and that 
they stood ready to withdraw from the National 
Agreement had its effect. The National ' ' caved ' ; 
and Comiskey was legally admitted. 

The fact that Comiskey had already leased a 
field and practically closed the contract for his 
stand showed how much he was influenced by 
the pending negotiations. At the last moment 
President Hart succeeded in getting in an 
" amendment " to the effect that the American 
League team should not use the name ' ' Chicago. ' ' 
To Comiskey this was of small consequence as 
he well knew that, if worthy of the honor, the 
fans would soon do their own christening. Be- 
sides, he had long before decided that his team 
should be know as " White Stockings, " an appel- 
lation which was later contracted into " White 
Sox," a form better suited to the exigencies of 
newspaper headline writing. 

Baseball historians have often been hard put 
to find a real motive for the expansion of the 
Western into the American League. In " The 
National Game,'* A. H. Spink suggests that in 
reality the American League was the outgrowth 
of an organization which he and his fellow enthu- 
siasts tried to form in 1898 and 1899 for the 

140 " Commy " 

purpose of putting new life and energy into the 
sport which was sadly on the decline. 

Francis C. Richter in his " History and Records 
of Baseball," contends that the leading figures in 
the Western League, foreseeing the breakup of 
the National League twelve-club circuit, simply 
took advantage of existing conditions. 

George L. Moreland in his " Balldom," lays 
the formation of the second major league to the 
keenness of the Western owners to get into more 
populous cities although their vision did not go 
beyond Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit. The 
later expansion, says Mr. Moreland, was dictated 
by the desire of the new organization to help out 
the National by heading off a threatened Amer- 
ican Association. 

A. G. Spalding indirectly gives his explanation 
in his essay on " Freedmanism," but is other- 
wise silent on the subject. 

The opinions entertained, although differing 
somewhat, are not necessarily contradictory, as 
each partially explains the reason for the organi- 
zation of the American League. The real reason 
is not to be found in the paragraphs just quoted. 

I was present in my newspaper capacity at the 
meetings held in Chicago during 1898 and 1899. 
It is true that leading figures in the Western 
League were present but purely as spectators. 

White Sox and War 141 

There was at no time any intention on the part of 
Comiskey, Johnson, Loftus and others to ally 
themselves with those who deliberated over the 
formation of a rival to the National League, as 
their own plans had already been formulated. 
They were only waiting for the opportune 
moment, which they knew would come with the 
revision of the National League circuit. 

Back of it all was a deeper motive for the for- 
mation of the American League. When Comis- 
key, through force of circumstances, was forced 
out of Chicago after the collapse of the Players' 
League in 1890, he made the mental determina- 
tion that one day the old organization would have 
competition in Chicago. Consequently the infer- 
ence that the American League invasion was dic- 
tated by temporary expedients is erroneous. 
The move had been conceived by Comiskey nine 
years before its actual consummation. The fact 
that the National greased the way has nothing 
to do with the case. 

It is a part of the secret history of baseball that 
Comiskey had a chance to locate in Chicago in 
1891. With the breakup of the Brotherhood, A. G. 
Spaulding suggested to the then manager of the 
Players' League team that he continue to play 
on the grounds where the players went broke in 
1890. Spalding seemed to have had only a hazy 

142 " Commy " 

idea as to what organization Comiskey should tie 
up to, although the American Association was 
suggested. With the suggestion went the pro- 
posal that A. C. Anson should take complete 
charge of the team on the West Side. 

" I told Mr. Spalding that as I was making my 
living in baseball it made no difference to me 
where I played, " said Comiskey in relating the 
incident. " When, however, he suggested that I 
had to rely on my own finances I concluded that I 
would rather work for someone else. ' ' 

It is not necessary to look for justification for 
a second club in Chicago. If any is needed senti- 
ment and business judgment provide the answer. 
Chicago was Comiskey 's home. To locate there 
meant everything to the minor league magnate. 
Chicago was the pivot of the American League 
venture. Invasion of other cities would be a 
logical sequence and expansion was, in the minds 
of the original promoters, never dependent on 
the whims of those who controlled the National. 
The program was for a second major league 
without a conflict, if possible; war to the hilt if 
necessary, but a national organization at all 

Plans having been perfected the organization 
and expansion were mere matters of detail 
such as for instance the raising of a few hundred 

White Sox and War 143 

thousand dollars. As Comiskey had " discov- 
ered " Johnson, so the latter dug up Charles W. 
Somers. Somers was a baseball fan in Cleve- 
land one of those enthusiasts who went to bed 
with a baseball guide under his pillow. In addi- 
tion to having his head crammed full of averages 
Mr. Somers had a bank account which, at this 
juncture, was of great importance. 

While Somers' partner in the Cleveland club, 
John F. Kilfoyle, looked after the home team 
during the season of 1900, Somers, Johnson and 
Comiskey mapped out a course of action. The 
bankroll was transferred to Boston and Somers 
became owner of the new American League club 
there in 1901. His credit aided one or two others 
but as soon as local capital could be obtained he 
pulled out of every city except his own. 

Somers remained as one of the commanding 
figures of the game until financial reverses, not 
connected with baseball, overtook him. He held 
the office of vice president of the American League 
up to a few years ago when the owner of the 
White Sox was elected to the position. 

Of those who were present at the birth of the 
American League in 1900 only two still are con- 
nected with it President Johnson and Charles 
A. Comiskey. Those who went in to buck the 
National as presidents of their respective clubs 

144 " Commy " 

in 1900 were: Chicago, Comiskey; Cleveland, 
John F. Kilfoyle; Detroit, James D. Burns; 
Indianapolis, W. H. Watkins; Milwaukee, Matt 
Killilea; Buffalo, James Franklin; Minneapolis, 
Clarence Saulpaugh; Kansas City, James H. 

In order to confer the distinction of an honor- 
able " ancestry " on the American League his- 
torians have endeavored to link the junior major 
organization with certain predecessors of more 
or less renown. Age might give it a greater 
respectability but the fact remains that it was 
the Western League, founded in 1894 which was 
expanded into the American League in 1900. The 
original Northwestern League, organized in 1879, 
and the Western Association, founded in 1888, 
cannot claim relationship. 

As was to be expected the American League 
did not take the country by storm during the first 
season principally because it was still pretty 
much confined to the West. The well matured 
plan to invade the East became public soon after 
the close of the first year. The matter was 
brought to a head by the American League pur- 
posely neglecting to renew its application for pro- 
tection under the National Agreement. In 
answer to a telegram of inquiry from President 
Young of the National League, President John- 

White Sox and War 145 

son of the American, sent this answer which pre- 
cipitated the greatest war in the history of the 

The plan of the American League to 
occupy eastern territory has been well denned 
and I think the men of the National League 
thoroughly understand our position in the 

For two years we have been menaced by 
the possible formation of a league hostile to 
our interest and detrimental in many ways to 
organized baseball. This annual agitation is 
hurtful and we proposed to so shape our 
organization as to check it in the future. 

In extending our circuit to the far east, it 
is unreasonable to assume we could continue 
along the old lines prescribed by the National 
Agreement. New conditions must alter, in 
part, our relations with the National League. 
This is a matter I have discussed informally 
with some of our members. 

In this message from Johnson is found the 
basis for the claim that the American League 
expanded because it was threatened by a rival 
organization. This is refuted when it is called to 
mind that in reality the " new " American Asso- 
ciation was fostered by the National in the hope 

146 " Commy " 

that it would serve to head off the ambitious 

With the gauntlet thrown down Indianapolis, 
Kansas City and Minneapolis were replaced by 
Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington. There 
was no threat made to put a club into either 
Boston or New York, as the circuit committee, 
consisting of Comiskey, Johnson and Somers, 
believed that the parent organization would 
accept the inevitable and make overtures for 
reconciliation. This hope not being realized and 
the National having made it known that it was 
on a " war footing " Buffalo was eliminated and 
Boston added. 

The issue being joined the two organizations 
went into a death grapple with no quarter given 
or asked on either side. The first move of the 
American League, after locating in the East, was 
to organize a raid on the playing talent of the 
older league. This was blocked for a time by 
the Players' Protective Association which held 
to the rule of " Prior Contracts. " The ban was 
soon lifted and the shifting began. 

The National sought recourse in the courts, a 
procedure which resulted in diametrically oppo- 
site opinions from the bench. The only legal 
hurdle of consequence was raised in Pennsyl- 
vania where Lajoie, Bernhardt and Fraser, who 

White Sox and War 147 

had signed with Connie Mack's Athletics, were 
enjoined from playing with any other team than 
the Philadelphia National League club. The 
players being unable to come to terms all three 
signed with the Cleveland Club. Lajoie was paid 
the highest salary ever received by a ball player 
up to that time $24,000 for three years. After 
the first raid the following players made up the 
different American League clubs with the excep- 
tion of Chicago: 

ATHLETICS Bernhardt, Piatt, Plank, Fraser, Wiltse, Ketchem, 
pitchers; Powers, Leahey, Steelman, Milligan, Smith, 
catchers; Lajoie, Davis, Cross, Dolan, Ely, Geier, Murphy, 
inflelders; Seybold, Fultz, Mclntyre, Heyden, outfielders. 
Manager, Connie Mack. 

WASHINGTON Patton, Gear, Mercer, Carrick, Lee, Jordan, 
pitchers; Clarke, Grady, catchers; Dungan, Everett, 
Quinn, Coughlin, Clingman, inflelders; Waldron, Farrell, 
O'Brien, Foster, Luskey, outfielders. 

CLEVELAND Wood, Moore, Scott, Hoffer, Hart, Bracken, 
Cristall, Bowling, McNeal, pitchers; Yeager, Woods, 
Connor, McGuire, catchers; LaChance, Beck, Bradley, 
McQuade, Sheibeck, Shay, infielders; Genins, Harvey, 
McCarthy, Pickering, Donovan, O'Brien, outfielders. 

BOSTON Lewis, Cuppy, Winters, Mitchell, Young, Kellum, 
Foreman, pitchers; Criger, Schreckongost, Seville, Mc- 
Lean, catchers; Freeman, Ferris, J. Collins, Parent, in- 
fielders; Stahl, Dowd, Hemphill, Jones, outfielders. 

DETROIT Miller, Yeager, Cronin, Seiver, Owens, Frisk, pitch- 
ers; Shaw, Buelow, McAllister, catchers; Dillon, Gleason, 
Casey, Elberfeld, Crackett, infielders; Barrett, Nance, 
Holmes, outfielders. 

BALTIMORE McGinnity, Nops, Foreman, Howell, Kearne, 
Dunn, Yerkes, Schmidt, pitchers; Robinson, Bresnahan, 

148 " Commy 

catchers; Donlin, Hart, Foutz, Williams, McGraw, Keis- 
ter, infielders; Jackson, Brodie, Seymour, Robe, out- 

MILWAUKEE Bowling, Garvin, Reidy, Sparks, Husting, Haw- 
ley, pitchers; Maloney, Donohue, Connor, Leahey, catchers; 
Anderson, Friel, Conroy, Gilbert, Burke, infielders; Duffy, 
Geler, Hallman, Jones, Hogriever, Bruyette, Waldron, 



Comiskey locates club on South Side in Chicago 
Wins a pennant and says farewell to the bench 
Open war between leagues break out Still an- 
other flag for the White Sox Fielder Jones takes 
command "Iron Man" Walsh gets into the 

It would be an exaggeration to contend that 
Comiskey entered Chicago in the spring of 1900 
with a great team. It would not be in accordance 
with the facts to maintain that he moved into a 
palatial ball park. The majority of his players 
had cavorted on the St. Paul minor league dia- 
mond. His plant was put up under pressure of 
double shifts and in construction and looks suf- 
fered accordingly. 

As pointed out Comiskey had leased the grounds 
and drawn the plans for the grand stand and 
bleachers before he had been legally admitted. 
The real estate was located at Thirty-ninth street 
and Princeton avenue, the lot of land having been 
the home of the Chicago Cricket Club for years. 


150 " Commy " 

There were no stands or buildings worthy of the 
name but the smooth turf made an ideal playing 

A late winter greatly interfered with the build- 
ing of the grand stand but, the new magnate being 
a son of " Honest John " Comiskey, union arti- 
sans waived many of the rules and by working in 
daylight, dark and on Sundays, the seats were in 
place for the initial game April 21. The united 
efforts produced a plant which, although far from 
being an architectural symphony, had the utilitar- 
ian advantage of capacity and fresh air. The 
grand stand was raised high off the ground, 
affording a view from beneath, while a ticklishly 
balanced roof served as a haven for the reporters. 

For transportation the fans depended mainly on 
the Wentworth avenue surface line, the cross 
town line on Thirty-ninth and the South Side 
Elevated railroad, four blocks away. 

It had been predicted that the South Side would 
prove a morgue for any league team, as South 
Siders had never given any evidence of taking 
kindly to the national pastime. The Brotherhood 
team had failed to draw and when the Chicago 
Nationals had played part of their games in the 
park of the former, which it had taken over, 
President Hart had found the experiment costly. 
The teeming West Side had been the baseball 

Players' Bench to Swivel Chair 151 

center of Chicago from the inception of the game, 
a fact of which Comiskey was well aware. 

Despite gloomy prediction a new chapter was 
written with the very first tilt. A capacity crowd 
greeted the invaders. The Sox did not fill the 
park every day but at the end of the season Com- 
iskey was in condition to buy up some of the out- 
standing stock, which he had been compelled to 
distribute. So well did the fans rise to the occa- 
sion that only a few years elapsed before he had 
become the sole owner of the club and a few more 
seasons sufficed to finance a new baseball plant, 
second to none in the country. 

With Comiskey on the bench as manager, the 
White Sox pulled through and, in a tight race, 
won the first pennant of the American League, the 
figures reading 82 won and 53 lost for a percent- 
age of .607. Milwaukee was second, four games 
behind and in order came Indianapolis, Detroit, 
Kansas City, Cleveland, Buffalo and Minneapolis. 

The team which captured the flag was composed 
of Denzer, Fisher, Katoll, and Patterson, pitch- 
ers ; Buckley, Sugden and Wood, catchers ; Isbell, 
first base ; Padden, field captain and second base ; 
Hartman, third base; Shugart, short stop; Hoy, 
Dillard, H. McFarland, Brodie and Shearon, out- 

It could not by any stretch of imagination be 

152 " Commy " 

called a fast outfit. In fact it was probably the 
slowest aggregation that ever worked under the 
" Old Boman," but it was fairly effective with 
the bat. Strategy was furnished from the bench. 
Of the pitchers, Denzer and Patterson did the 
best work while Sugden was an experienced 
catcher. Padden, a star second baseman, was 
slowing up as were several of the others. 
Although of a minor league calibre it was as game 
a bunch as ever stepped on the ball field and the 
rapidly increasing throng in the stands found it 
more and more to their interest to stick until the 
end of the ninth inning. 

A major league aggregation took the field the 
following year. "War having broken out, the 
winter was spent in raiding the enemy's pre- 
serves. These are the more aristocratic names 
found in the 1901 lineup: 

Pitchers, Clark Griffith, Jimmy Callahan, Wiley 
Piatt, Boy Patterson, John Katoll ; catchers, Billy 
Sullivan and Joe Sugden ; infielders, Frank Isbell, 
Sam Mertes, Frank Hartman, Ed Burke, Frank 
Shugart ; outfielders, William Hoy, Fielder Jones, 
Clarence Foster, Ed McFarland. 

With the signing of Griffith, Callahan and 
Mertes, civil war was on. All three were stars of 
the first magnitude and their migration from the 
West Side of Chicago to the South Side accen- 

Players' Bench to Swivel Chair 153 

tuated the cleavage between the two camps. 
National League fans took it much to heart. A 
bitter rivalry sprang up, which continued until 
followers of each discovered that even with two 
teams there could be enough glory to go around. 

With the close of the 1900 season Comiskey said 
farewell to the bench, planted himself in the 
presidential chair and turned the managerial 
reins over to Clark Griffith. The veteran quit 
with a record of seventeen years behind him as 
manager. In that time he had won five pennants 
and one world's championship. He closed a pro- 
fessional career that had extended over 25 years, 
having been in uniform all but two. When he 
stepped from the dug-out he was in his prime 
42 years of age and his physical condition was 
such that he threatened to break into the game 
now and then. 

11 If he does he will show the rest of us up," 
was Isbell's sage comment. 

It was a pretty good team which took the field 
in 1901, the first year of the war, but it had to be. 
There was plenty of competition all the way from 
Boston to Milwaukee. The list of players given 
in the preceding chapter gives a fair idea of the 
" class," but after another stirring race Chicago 
again won, with Boston second, four games 
behind. Detroit, Athletics, Baltimore, Washing- 

154 " Commy " 

ton, Cleveland and Milwaukee finished in order 

On paper, at least, two clubs seemed to have 
the edge on the White Sox Boston and the 
Athletics. Chicago had increased its speed by 
the acquisition of Callahan, Jones, Mertes and 
Hoy, but it was far from being a fast combina- 
tion. In hitting it was only superior to the team 
of the year before but it pulled through on its 
pitching and team work, the battle raging to the 
end of the season. 

With the ring cleared for the free-for-all in 1902 
the new league found it convenient to replace Mil- 
waukee with St. Louis in the circuit. As the 
Mound City had boasted two clubs within its 
gates at different times the transfer did not create 
a sensation, but the defection of Baltimore, in 
the middle of the season, did. The onus for the 
smash was placed on John McGraw, who was the 
leader of the Orioles at the time. He resigned 
in July to become manager of the New York 
Nationals and, a month later, the majority stock- 
holders sold the team to John T. Brush, who that 
spring had obtained control of the Giants. Of 
the team McGinnity, Cronin, McGann and Bres- 
nahan followed McGraw, while Kelley and Sey- 
mour were released to Cincinnati. 

Brush had been the man to engineer the deal 

Players' Bench to Swivel Chair 155 

and he had figured that the strategy would have 
the effect of breaking up Johnson's circuit or 
at least would force the invaders to come to terms. 
He never made a greater mistake. Some of the 
weak-kneed members in the American League 
were for a compromise. 

' ' Let it be a fight to a finish, ' ' demanded Comis- 
key in Chicago. 

The league as a whole went to the rescue of the 
plucked Orioles and a makeshift team was put in 
the field and finished the season. At the close 
President Johnson took advantage of the alleged 
underground methods employed by the National 
to inflame the fans against the parent body and 
thus secured a following in the country's metrop- 
olis which later was taken advantage of to the 
full. "When the New York invasion finally took 
place the American League circuit committee, 
still in good working order, fortified itself by 
drafting backers for the new club from the lead- 
ing political, social and financial lights of the 

The elimination of Baltimore and the entry into 
New York provided the American League's miss- 
ing link, completed an organization which has not 
seen a territorial change up to the present, and 
eventually led to peace and a new National agree- 

156 " Commy " 

The invectives hurled at Brush during this 
period by supporters of the junior organization 
were as emphatic as they were picturesque. 
Comiskey did not join in the chorus. The turn 
of affairs made baseball enemies of the " Old 
Roman " and the New York magnate, but the 
Chicago owner always insisted that Brush was 
not as bad as painted. 

" It is his method of warfare/' Commy would 
explain to the interviewer. " "We have ours and 
we will whip them at the gate. There is the place 
to decide the fight." 

Comiskey was right. The clicking of the turn- 
stiles and the daring incursions into the players' 
fold decided the fray. At the end of the 1902 
season came overtures for peace. With Harry 
C. Pulliam as president of the National League it 
was not difficult to reach an agreement, which was 
signed at Cincinnati, January 10, 1903. 

With the new compact baseball was put on a 
solid foundation and the structure was not again 
to be disturbed until a decade had passed. 

It is not the intention to go into the details of 
each pennant race which followed the first year 
of actual warfare. Only the high spots in the 
career of the White Sox will be touched upon. 
The statistics of the game may be safely left to 
the many excellent baseball " guides." 

Players' Bench to Swivel Chair 157 

New names are to be found on the 1902 White 
Sox roster in Garvin, McMackin, Eddie Hughes, 
Leitner, Durham, Eddie McFarland, Daly, Strang 
and Green the latter " Danny " of the Cubs. 
Several others were tried out but found wanting. 
The name of George Davis also appears for the 
first time. Davis had twice been manager of the 
Giants and, although well along in playing years, 
was considered one of the best infielders in the 
game. The veteran braced up the infield but 
other teams also had been greatly strengthened 
through new raids and the best the Sox could 
do was to finish fourth to the Athletics. St. 
Louis and Boston were second and third respec- 
tively, while Cleveland, Washington, Detroit and 
Baltimore trailed Chicago. 

The newcomers on the 1903 White Sox team, 
after the final foray into the enemy's territory, 
were Flaherty, White, Dunkle, Owen and Altrock, 
pitchers; Slattery, catcher; Dolan, Tannehill, 
Magoon and Clarke, infielders, and Hallman, out- 
fielder. To Griffith was assigned the task of 
piloting the new Gotham team and Jimmy Calla- 
han succeeded his former teammate as manager. 
Through a combination of circumstances, with 
injuries predominating, the Sox became the Amer- 
ican League doormat, being unable to finish bet- 
ter than seventh, Boston capturing the flag. The 

158 " Commy " 

Athletics, Cleveland, New York, Detroit and St. 
Louis were above Chicago, while Washington 
alone trailed it. 

This year saw the first of the Sox-Cubs series 
for the city championship. It proved the longest, 
in point of games, bar one, which either had 
engaged in, fourteen games being crowded into 
the first two weeks of October. Each won seven, 
the series terminating in a draw. Comiskey was 
insistant on playing the fifteenth, but Frank Seele, 
manager of the Cubs, demurred. He gave as the 
reasons that the contracts with the players had 
expired and that Joe Tinker, his star short stop, 
had a date at the altar in Kansas City. 

The historic gameness of the Sox again came 
to the front in this series. The Cubs were getting 
a long lead in games early. Altrock turned the 
scales. He was not, at this time, considered much 
of a pitcher, and had been given only a minor 
part. When all the star Sox pitchers had been 
walloped Nick volunteered. 

" Give me a chance,'* he pleaded with Callahan. 
" I can lick them. I have as much as I always 
had my glove and that 's enough. ' ' 

Altrock pitched and won. 

The year 1904 was marked by the appearance 
with the White Sox of Edward Walsh, a giant in 
size but of small attainments as a ball player. 

Players' Bench to Swivel Chair 159 

He had been drafted from the Newark club of 
the Eastern League, where he rejoiced in the 
sobriquet of " Iron Man." He was all of that 
when he first reported to the spring training 
camp at Marlin, Texas, but that exhausted his 
repertoire. He had speed to burn but didn't 
know how to use it. He was impossible as a 
fielder and a bunt hit in his direction was always 
good for at least one base. 

Coal mining around Plains, Pennsylvania, in 
his early days had failed to stunt his physique, 
and " Apollo " proved no misnomer. When, 
however, he came to carry out the role of the 
Grecian divinity aside from music and oratory, 
Walsh fell afoul of the " Old Boman." Posing 
had never been an attribute of " Commy." It 
was an art with Walsh. On the point of deliver- 
ing the ball he sometimes would stand for a min- 
ute or more, with arms poised on high, shoulders 
thrown back, one foot a step in front of the other 
and all the time never moving a muscle. Coming 
off the field one day Comiskey accosted him. 

" That's a great pose you got, Ed," began the 
Sox boss, " but I don't think you keep it long 
enough. When you get your arms above your 
head hold the position until they get the cameras 

Walsh saw the point, but never entirely dropped 

160 " Commy " 

the pose. Later on he used it to develop a throw 
to bases, especially first, that had every runner 
in the league " buffaloed." The victims of the 
deadly snap throw insisted that it was "balk " 
motion, but Ed got away with it, as no umpire 
had the heart to interfere with a maneuver which 
was the acme of artistic deception. 

Having looked him over once both Callahan 
and Comiskey came to the conclusion that Walsh 
had been a whale among minnows and that he 
should be given the opportunity of resuming the 
role. Yet, somehow or other, he was retained. 
An incident, considered of no moment at the time, 
turned the scales in his favor and eventually 
made him one of the greatest hurlers of all time. 

In the Sox camp at Marlin was a pitcher by 
name of Elmer Stricklett, He was the opposite 
to Walsh in build, and yet he handed up a ball 
to the batters in practice which was unhittable. 
It took twists and turns in approaching the plate 
that were against all the laws of gravity. Every- 
body took a swing at it. Most of them missed it, 
sometimes by a foot or more. Billy Sullivan, 
catching, found the ball wet and slippery. 

" What's the idea," demanded the backstop, 
who was not enamored of handling the sphere. 

" Oh, that's my way of pitching," explained 

Players' Bench to Swivel Chair 161 

" What do you call it? '- insisted Sullivan. 

" Don't know," was the answer. " I suppose 
' spitball ' explains it as well as anything. ' ' 

No one watched the gyrations of the ball closer 
than did Ed Walsh. Curiously enough Stricklett 
hailed from the same club as did Walsh, although 
Elmer had preceded the " Iron Man " a couple 
of years. It was while he was with the Newark 
club that Stricklett had been taught the delivery 
by Pitcher Corridon of the Philadelphia Nation- 
als. Corridon only possessed the rudiments of 
the delivery. He knew it combined a drop and 
curve, both in and out, yet he never could control 
it. Stricklett started to perfect it while with the 
Brooklyn club. When he joined the White Sox 
he had mastered it fairly well, but before he 
could show its effectiveness he developed a lame 
arm and was released. He is credited with having 
pitched one game for the White Sox. His pupil 
figured in 415 games and it was not until 1913 
that he complained of a sore wing. 

Walsh continued to grow as a pitcher, but 
slowly at first. It was not until 1906 that he got 
into his real stride. In that year he pitched in 
41 games. In 1908 he figured in 66, a record for 
the league. Then in successive years he rolled 
up a record of 32, 45, 55 and 62. He became the 
master of the moist delivery and the idol of the 

162 " Conimy " 

fans. Even Comiskey became reconciled to his 
" pose." Bonuses, autos and other tokens of 
value were showered on him. 

Heroes make friends. Walsh's were legion. 
He could have dispensed with many to his own 
advantage. While at the height of his career some 
of his self-appointed advisors suggested that he 
didn't get enough money from Comiskey. 

" Stand out for $7,500," was the advice. 

It was suggested that he put his affairs in the 
hands of a lawyer. The attorney wrote one letter 
to Comiskey. He never repeated as " Commy " 
answered the first as only he could do. 

" So Walsh has a lawyer now," said Comiskey 
at the receipt of the epistle. " He didn't need one 
during the three years I was paying him to sit on 
the bench and learn something about pitching." 

Walsh got a job coaching a college team after 
he heard from his friend the attorney. When 
he didn't hear anything from Comiskey he jumped 
on a train, came to Chicago and signed the con- 
tract laid in front of him. It was for less 
money than he would have received had he been 
without " legal advice." 

That fall he was handed a check for $3,000 to 
be applied towards the education of his two boys. 
Eeports to the contrary, Walsh was pai'd one of 
the highest salaries of any player in the league. 

Players' Bench to Swivel Chair 163 

It did not always figure in the contract, but he 
got it just the same. 

Came the time, in the spring of 1913, when 
Walsh switched from a baseball to a medicine 
ball. It was at Paso Robles, California. He 
tossed the big leather sphere once too often. 
Something snapped in his shoulder and he was 
through as a pitcher. For three years he sat on 
the bench practically useless to the team. Comis- 
key spent a small fortune in trying to rehabilitate 
him. Bone setters and masseurs lived in clover 
while the experiment was going on, but the mighty 
hurler never again pitched a game in his old- 
time form. 

Through as a pitcher Comiskey offered him a 
minor league club. Walsh hated to think that 
he couldn't " come back,'* and turned it down. 
His last trial was with the American Association. 
He failed. Coming into Comiskey 's office that 
summer he admitted that his career as a ball 
player was over. 

" I knew you were through years ago," said 
Comiskey, " but you are still on the White Sox 
pay roll. I need a good scout." 

Contemporaneous with Walsh was Frank 
Smith, another giant. He had all the earmarks 
of a great pitcher. Also some peculiarities. One 
of these was a windup with men on the bases,. 

164 " Commy " 

which carried all the frills of an acrobatic feat. 
Callahan tried to change his style, but to no pur- 
pose. Comiskey, finally becoming exasperated, 
called Smith in. 

' * When a man on first is trying to steal, while 
you are pitching, the catcher must throw the ball 
to third base instead of second," said Comiskey 
with mock seriousness. 

" But why? " innocently asked the big twirler. 

" Because when you get through your windup 
the runner ought to be sliding into that bag," 
answered the " Old Roman." 

Donohue also appeared for the first time on this 
trip to Marlin the immortal Jiggs, who after 
a disappointing start became the most finished 
first baseman of the decade. Then there were 
Berry and Heydon, catchers; Dundon and Boss- 
man, infielders; Ducky Holmes and Huelsman, 

Before the season ended, left field had a new 
occupant in Jimmy Callahan, who had relinquished 
the managership to Fielder Jones in midsummer. 

The new manager proved an ideal leader and 
the Sox, through a spurt at the close, waltzed into 
third place in the race, with Boston winning the 
championship. New York finished second, and 
after Chicago came Cleveland, Athletics, St. Louis, 
Detroit and Washington. 

Players' Bench to Swivel Chair 165 

If any justification for the choice of Fielder 
Jones as manager was needed, the 1905 campaign, 
the season of preparedness for greater things, 
furnished it. With the exception of infielder Bohe, 
Jones practically stood pat on the team and made 
the race the most spectacular seen in the Amer- 
ican League up to that time. For the greater part 
of the journey the White Sox and Athletics were 
neck and neck, Chicago leading in the middle of 
the season by a narrow margin. After falling 
behind when the season was two-thirds over, the 
Sox came again and by a sensational spurt came 
within one game of Connie Mack's whirlwinds. 
They played eleven games in six days away from 
home. The Sox lost, but they compelled the Ath- 
letics, the eventual winners, to travel the rocky 
road of uncertainty until the third from the last 
day of the season. At the finish the Athletics 
had won 92 games and lost 56 ; the Sox had won 
92 and lost 60. 

The rest of the contenders were outclassed, 
Detroit being the nearest, Boston, Cleveland, New 
York, Washington and St. Louis trailing. 

Peace having been declared between the rival 
Chicago clubs, the post-season games were 
resumed. The brilliant playing of Frank Chance 
was a big factor in the victory of the Cubs, who 
vanquished the Sox four games out of five. 



Race in 1905 a curtain-raiser for greater things 
Nineteen victories in a row Sox win their third 
pennant Defeat Cubs for the championship of the 
World Charles W. Murphy is introduced Gives 
his opinion of rival owner. 

Comiskey's greatest year in baseball developed 
several changes from the 1905 lineup. George 
Rohe divided the third base position with Lee 
Tannehill, while Isbell became a second baseman. 
Callahan, having come to the conclusion that he 
could do better as a semi-pro magnate, quit the 
big ring, while Holmes and Danny Green were 
released. Dougherty, Hahn, O'Neill, Vinson, 
Hemphill, Fiene, Both, Hart and Towne donned 
the white hosiery for the first time. 

The fierceness of the struggle in 1905 had filled 
the home fans with the hope that the Sox would 
make a runaway race of it in 1906, but after a fair 
start the team was floundering in the unfamiliar 
surroundings of second division. In hitting they 


The " Hitless Wonders " 167 

had, year after year, gradually dropped from .275 
in 1901 to .237 in 1905. They had already acquired 
the title of " hitless wonders," but they were 
rapidly becoming more and more hitless without 
being wonders. 

While the Sox were trying to get together, the 
Athletics, New York and Cleveland teams were 
having the race to themselves. Detroit threatened 
now and then. Sometimes the leaders were 
switched almost daily, but of the glory Chicago 
had no part. 

Towards the latter part of July Fielder Jones 
had succeeded in getting his pitching staff in con- 
dition for a drive and, starting on August 2 he 
began his victory march of 19 straight games, a 
record surpassed but once in the history of base- 
ball. Providence had won twenty straight in 1884, 
as a member of the National League, the pitching 
of " Hoss " Eadbourne making the feat possible. 
As a unique feat in the annals of the game the 
complete record of the White Sox during this 
marvelous drive is here reproduced: 

August 2 White Sox, 3; Boston, 0. White- Young. 

August 3 White Sox, 4; Boston, 0. Walsh-Harris. 

August 4 White Sox, 1; Boston, 0. Patterson-Dineen. 

August 5 White Sox, 10; Athletics, 2. White-Bender. 

August 6 White Sox, 7; Athletics, 2. Owen-Coombs, Coak- 


August 7 White Sox, 4; Athletics, 0. Walsh-Waddell. 

168 " Commy " 

August 8 White Sox, 1; Athletics, 0. Patterson-Plank (10 

August 9 White Sox, 3; Athletics, 2. White-Dygert (10 

August 10 White Sox, 2; New York, 1. Walsh-Chesbro. 

August 11 White Sox, 8; New York, 1. Owen-Hogg, New- 
ton, Chesbro. 

August 12 White Sox, 3; New York, 0. Walsh-Orth. 

August 13 White Sox, 0; New York, 0. White-Chesbro (9 

August 15 White Sox, 6; Boston, 4. Walsh-Tannehill, 

August 16 White Sox, 9; Boston, 4. Patterson, Altrock- 

August 17 White Sox, 4; Boston, 3. Owen, White- Young. 

August 18 White Sox, 10; New York, 0. Walsh-Chesbro. 

August 20 White Sox, 4; New York, 1. White-Orth. 

August 22 White Sox, 6; New York, 1. Walsh-Chesbro, 

August 22 White Sox, 11; New York, 6. Owen-Hogg, Grif- 

August 23 White Sox, 4; Washington, 1. Patterson-Falk- 

The first twelve games were played at home. 
Then came three at Boston, four at New York and 
one at Washington. 

It will be noticed that Walsh won seven of the 
nineteen games. His moist delivery was beginning 
its deadly work, which was repeated for six suc- 
cessive seasons. Walsh went up against some of 
the best pitchers in the league. Waddell, perhaps 
the greatest left-hander who ever lived, fared no 
better than the rest. Of this remarkable series 
eight games were shut-outs. Of these Walsh had 

The " Hitless Wonders " 169 

four to his credit. The total number of runs 
the opposition garnered off of his delivery was six, 
fewer than one per game. 

On August 7 the White Sox had reached second 
place in the race. On August 12 they looked down 
on the rest from the top. Once having reached the 
peak the real battle began and, still ' ' hitless, ' ' but 
now ' * wonders, ' ' the White Sox won a reputation 
for gameness which has seldom been equalled. An 
indication of their pluck is furnished by the record 
of 29 games won during the season by one run. 

On September 3 they were dislodged from first 
place by New York, the Highlanders holding the 
lead until the 13th. On September 14 Chicago 
was in a tie with New York, but they went to the 
front the next day. The Sox paled for just one 
day September 21 but were back in the lead 
twenty- four hours later. Failing to stay down, the 
Gotham crew stepped over Comiskey's battling 
cohorts and took a front seat in the procession 
during September 23 and 24. Chicago, however, 
was through " fooling " and grabbed the lead on 
the 25th to hold it until the finish. 

Putting any construction one pleases on the race 
as a whole, it was patent to any observer that the 
Sox had bluffed their way through. They finished 
w r ith a team batting average of .228 the lowest 
in the league. Great pitching had been con- 

170 " Commy " 

tributed by White, Walsh, Patterson and Owen, 
but runs are needed to win and gilt-edged twirling 
is often found among tailenders. The answer was 
found in strategy and team work. Given the 
slimmest kind of opening, a 100 per cent defense 
would be necessary to keep the Sox from trundling 
the winning run over the plate. Their own defense 
was well nigh perfect. 

On the offense the slogan was to get on the bases 
by hook or crook and to * ' claim everything. ' ' As 
a result no friendly greetings were exchanged 
between the manager and the umpires and before 
the season had come to a close Jones had worn a 
path between the plate and the bench. 

Watching the maneuvers of the players while 
at home was an upstanding figure in a gray 
" bonnet." At every game he took his position 
behind the heavy wire screen under the stand. It 
wasn't the best place in the world for a lookout 
but it is not on record that any plays escaped him. 
Every forenoon the manager and the observer of 
the day before would meet in the private office of 
the president, a boxlike stall close to the entrance 
and furnished with two chairs, a plain desk and a 
box of cigars. 

The conversation would be brief and to the 
point. Jones would be apprised of the fact that 
the owner of the team had noticed a lot of things 

The " Hitless Wonders " 171 

from behind the screen. Comiskey didn't believe 
much in " inside " baseball, but he did insist on 
his men playing the game ' ' right. ' ' His principal 
strategy consisted in being in position to complete 
any play that might possibly come up. Nothing 
so exasperated him as a player failing to cover 
his base. Noticing once that second base had been 
left without a keeper after the ball had been hit 
he recalled this to the manager after the game. 

" Tell the players," said Comiskey with some 
heat, " that they can get just as good a view of 
a ball going over the fence while standing on the 
bag as they can twenty feet away." 

Comiskey has often been charged with inter- 
fering with his managers in running the team. Put 
to the test he probably would plead guilty. His 
pilots would also readily admit that they appre- 
ciated the interference from a man who had for- 
gotten more baseball than most men knew. No 
one, however, ever accused " Commy " of coming 
between player and manager. When one from the 
ranks appeared in the ' ' front office ' ' it was either 
to get his pay check or the visit was at the sug- 
gestion of his field boss. If he had a kick when 
he came he left with the impression that he owed 
the universe an apology for being permitted to 

With the 1906 pennant race over, began prepara- 

172 " Commy " 

tions for that classic combat between the Sox and 
the Cubs which, even to this day, is nurtured in 
song and story in the district ' ' around the yards. ' ' 
The Cubs had captured the National League flag 
and had set a new record in games won with 116. 
The team was a worthy successor to Anson's 
1 ' Heroic Legion ' ' and boasted of an infield, which 
in some respects even surpassed that famed stone- 
wall of the Eighties. 

No greater combination had been seen for years 
than was offered by Chance, Evers, Tinker and 
Steinfeldt. In the outfield were Sheckard, Hof- 
mann and Schulte. Brown, Overall, Euelbach and 
Pfiester as pitchers had held the greatest batters 
in the National League in the hollow of their 
hands. Johnny Kling was rated as the top notch 
catcher and with Frank Chance as leader they were 
considered invincible by the West Side fans, the 
team going into the series heavy favorites. 

Nick Altrock, who in 1903 had insisted that his 
stock in trade consisted of only his glove, won the 
first game for the Sox at the West Side park. The 
score was 2 to 1 and the South Side comedian went 
up against Mordecai Brown, then in his prime as 
a hurler. The second game was a walkover for the 
Cubs on the West Side grounds, Ruelbach, who 
opposed White, letting down the American 
leaguers with one hit, the score being 7 to 1. 

The " Hitless Wonders " 173 

The following day, on the West Side, George 
Eohe immortalized himself by pounding out a 
triple with the bases full, then and there winning 
the game, which ended 3 to 0. The Cubs could 
do nothing with Ed Walsh, who allowed but two 
hits. Jack Pfiester, for the losers, was almost as 
good, permitting four. 

The Cubs evened up the series in the fourth 
game, through Brown's magnificent pitching, the 
three fingered wizard being hit safely only twice, 
the game winding up 1 to in favor of the 

The fifth no-quarter contest, which went to the 
White Sox 8 to 6, was marked by Frank IsbelPs 
four two-base hits. In the final White had the 
Cubs at his mercy, the Sox winning 8 to 3. 

The result was an unexpected blow to the fol- 
lowers of the National League, but the defeat 
failed to affect the morale of the West Siders, 
who, in winning one pennant, acquired the habit. 

The series between the Sox and the Cubs served 
to introduce Charles W. Murphy, who had pur- 
chased the Cubs before the championship season 
opened. As a coincidence his first title clash was 
with Charles A. Comiskey, whose fortunes he had 
followed when a cub reporter in Cincinnati. 
Having seen " Commy " play in his early days, 
and having been his rival for years, the follow- 

174 " Commy " 

ing from Mr. Murphy's pen should be of peculiar 
interest : 

When I first knew Charles A. Comiskey, 
the beloved " Old Roman " of the famous 
Chicago White Sox, he was first baseman and 
manager of the time-honored Cincinnati team 
under Mr. Brush. I had located in Cincin- 
nati after leaving my birth-place at Wil- 
mington, Ohio, and was a ' ' kid ' ' reporter on 
the late John E. McLean's Cincinnati En- 
quirer. At that early age I was wild about 
baseball and never let an opportunity to see 
a game slide by. Harry Weldon was the 
sporting editor. 

After witnessing Comiskey play a few 
games I said one night to Weldon : 

" I wish I could have seen Commy play 
when he led the Browns to all those pennants 
over in St. Louis. I never saw anybody play 
such a deep first base and he seems to want 
everything that is coming from the umpire.'* 
" You are mighty right he does," replied 
Weldon, " because he knows that one bad 
decision may often lose the game and Comis- 
key is a hard loser. Why, the coaching box 
was invented to keep him away from the 
umpires. He was not what you would term 

The " Hitless Wonders " 175 

an umpire baiter, but he spent plenty of time 
running up to the home plate when the 
umpires gave a particularly punk decision, 
which might turn victory into defeat." 

Ever after that when I beheld the coaching 
box, as we see it today I usually associate it 
with Comiskey. When Comiskey managed 
the Keds he lived at the Grand Hotel in Cin- 
cinnati and was about the most popular man 
in the Queen City. It was then that I learned 
about what a magnetic personality he pos- 
sessed. He was a chum of Col. Jerry 
Keirsted, Dr. Minor, Captain Tinker and 
other pioneer fans and they all loved him 
sincerely. After the ball game of evenings 
the crowd would gather around a big round 
table and play hearts. The ball game would 
also be played over in those reunions and I 
guess Comiskey could have been elected 
mayor at that time if he had aspired to a 
political career. 

His great reputation had preceded him to 
Cincinnati and we all knew of his winning 
four flags in a row for St. Louis under Chris 
Von der Ahe. I thought before I saw Comis- 
key play that any stalwart player, who could 
bat, was acceptable as a guardian of the initial 
sack. Comiskey was the first player I ever 

176 " Commy " 

saw who played so deep and allowed the 
pitcher to cover first base on many plays. 
He was a truly wonderful first baseman and 
really revolutionized the playing at that posi- 
tion, showing creative genius. Comiskey did 
not bat like Eoger Conner, Dave Orr or Dan 
Brouthers, perhaps, but as an all-round first 
baseman he excelled sluggers of that type in 
his general worth to a club. 

I doubt if there ever was a smarter player 
and his quick, intuitive mind was well known 
in the baseball world. Comiskey has always 
been in sympathy with the players and that 
is one reason why he has been so successful 
in the national game. 

I have always regarded Comiskey as the 
father of the American League and the 
sponsor of the president of that organization. 
There never has been any doubt in my mind 
that it was Comiskey who made the American 
League what it is today the rival of the 
National League. His practical knowledge of 
baseball was known throughout the cquntry 
and when he advised men with capital to 
become club-owners they listened to him and 
heeded his advice. It has always been my 
belief that Comiskey is the smartest man in 
baseball. His magnetic personality has had 

The " Hitless Wonders " 177 

much to do in creating the wonderful loyalty 
to his great team on the South Side of 

He was my competitor for years for the 
patronage of the public and I always found 
him a fair fighter never hitting below the 
belt. Few men in baseball realize the com- 
posite character of the * ' Old Eoman ' ' his 
admirable mixture of sportsmanship with 
business acumen. To me he has always been 
more or less of an idol a man to be looked 
up to. I formed a great admiration for 
" Commy ' thirty years ago and it has 
increased each year since I met him. He was 
much admired by my sponsor in baseball, the 
late John T. Brush, who used to deplore that 
Comiskey was not in the National League. 
Today he is probably the greatest individual 
force in baseball and he has reached the 
present pinnacle by his own efforts solely. 
Comiskey would have been a success in any 
other line of human endeavor, because he is a 
go-getter. When he started his club in Chi- 
cago he took a long chance and shot at the 
moon and hit it. Few men would have 
braved the hazardous investment in baseball 
as he did. 

In time of chaos he is always cool and calm 

178 " Commy " 

and his judgment is of the best. He knows 
the inherent strength of baseball and its great 
hold on the American people. He realizes 
that it will always retain its popularity as 
long as it is kept clean and honest. My 
experience as a club-owner in Chicago has 
taught me to respect Comiskey's views on all 
subjects relating to baseball and I have 
noticed that when his advice is heeded in 
baseball policies, trouble of a serious nature is 
avoided. He knows how to feel the public 
pulse and is a great asset to the game. Long 
may he wave! 

The ability of Comiskey as an organizer is 
best shown by the fact that until the Amer- 
ican League was born no opposition could 
stand up against the National League. In the 
councils of the National League most of us 
regarded Comiskey as the brains of the Amer- 
ican League. We always recognized his 
shrewdness and ability to do what the public 

With the Sox-Cubs series began the era of big- 
money. The receipts set a record at $106,550. As 
the price of tickets averaged only a little over $1 
the total did not reach the large figures of later 
years when admissions were inflated to two or 

The " Hitless Wonders " 179 

three times the normal. This made the players' 
share of modest dimensions, so much so that when 
the pay checks were handed out, Comiskey pre- 
sented to Manager Jones his share of the first 
four games $15,000 to be distributed " among 
the boys." 



Long wait for a pennant A season without a 
parallel Sox lose bunting by one game Fielder 
Jones resigns when partnership is denied Joe Can- 
tillon in need of friends Comiskey moves into 
$1,000,000 plant "Future Greats" join the 

Having attained the peak in 1906, after a wait 
of twenty years, Comiskey was destined to run 
the cycle of eleven seasons before unfurling 
another pennant. In the interval five pilots tried 
their hand at getting the White Sox to the top. 
Four of them failed a quartet from the major 
league school. It remained for a " busher," 
Clarence Rowland, to land the fourth American 
League flag for the " Old Roman." 

Fielder Jones continued as manager until the 
close of the 1908 season. In each of the two years 
he drove the Sox into third place in the pennant 
race. In 1907 he finished five games behind 
Detroit, which beat out the Athletics by a nose, 
with Cleveland, New York, St. Louis, Boston and 
Washington trailing. Hard luck was the Sox 


Two Pitch-Outs 181 

portion all season. Injuries to Tannehill and 
Sullivan and mediocre work by Altrock and Pat- 
terson, two of the old reliables, put the world's 
best out of the running time and again, but in 
grit they were still champions, coming up smiling 
after each knockdown. 

The same combination, which had won a 
world's title, made up the team, only minor 
changes being made. Armbruster was added to 
the catching staff and Hickman and Quillan to 
the infield. 

The season of 1908 will stand without parallel 
in the annals of major league baseball. In each 
organization the pennant depended on the last 
game of the season with the striking coincidence 
added of the two Chicago teams figuring in both. 
In New York Merkle's lapse in failing to touch 
second base necessitated a play-off of the Cubs- 
Giants game the day after the season regularly 
closed. The victory of Chicago gave the Cubs 
their third straight flag. 

In the West the White Sox and Detroit went 
into a clinch for the flag October 6, the final day 
of the schedule. The pennant would go to the 
winner as Cleveland, the third contender, had 
been eliminated by St. Louis a couple of days 
before. ' * Doc ' ' White for the Sox, was knocked 
out of the box in the first inning, the Tigers 

182 "Commy" 

scoring four runs. " Wild Bill " Donovan for 
Detroit was unhittable and Chicago failed to put 
a marker over the pan while Detroit added three 
for good measure. 

While the dentist pitcher was sadly walking to 
the dugout " Iron Man " Walsh sallied forth. 
He had been on similar errands of mercy 
twenty times before during the season which, 
added to his regular journeys to the box, totaled 
66, a record for the American League. In innings 
pitched it would figure up to 464. Having under- 
gone the terrific strain of pitching in fourteen 
more than one-third of all the games in which the 
Sox had been engaged, he proved unequal to the 
task and was relieved by Frank Smith. 

This erratic hurler held the Tigers at bay dur- 
ing the final innings of the game. If ever a pitcher 
had an opportunity to atone for his sins it was 
Smith. Even though finishing like a whirlwind, 
Smith was held responsible for the loss of the 
pennant. The fans did not know. Comiskey and 
Jones did. 

Two rash pitch-outs toward the middle of the 
season had deprived the White Sox of their fourth 
flag and a possible world 's title. These pitch-outs 
were of minor consequence at the time. They 
loomed up as nothing else before or since, at the 
finish. Oddly enough, they had been made against 

Two Pitch-Outs 183 

the very team that eventually beat out the Sox 
in the last game of the season. 

It happened at Detroit. 

Smith was pitching. 

At a critical stage he twice whizzed the ball wide 
of the plate on purpose. He figured that it was 
good strategy. No one else did. After the game 
Jones took the big twiiier to task. Smith resented 
it and made a bluff of * * going after the manager. ' ' 
Jones failed to report the occurrence to Comiskey 
on his return but the president heard of it. The 
episode brought out the " Old Roman's " idea of 
discipline in strong relief. He took the risk of 
losing a pennant in order to make an " example." 
Eventually it did cost him a flag or possibly two. 
A fortune went with it. 

" What have you done to Smith? " was Comis- 
key 's opening remark as he greeted his manager. 

" Why, nothing," replied Jones, a little non- 

" Well, why haven't you I I thought that you 
were the manager of the team. ' ' 

" Am I? " queried the pilot. 

" You have never been anything else and as 
long as you are with me you will remain so and 
I will back you up if you should suspend every 
man on the team for the balance of the season," 
said Comiskey. 

184 " Commy " 

" In that case Smith is laid off indefinitely," 
replied the manager. 

1 1 After you have broken the news to him send 
him to me, ' ' was the message from ' ' Commy. ' ' 

There is no stenographic report of the confer- 
ence between owner and player, but Smith himself 
was authority for the statement that it was worth 
the season's suspension to listen to the " Old 
Roman. ' ' 

Smith's justification of the two unlucky pitch- 
outs figured in the conversation as they did in the 
race. As he was not reinstated until the very end 
of the season, and this happened at the earnest 
solicitation of Jones, he, of course, had no oppor- 
tunity of bolstering up the weakened pitching 
staff. As it turned out, had Smith won a single 
game the pennant would have flown at the Sox 

Realizing full well what the pitcher's defection 
had cost him Comiskey called Smith to his office 
after that disastrous final game with the Tigers. 
It was a shorter session than the first but equally 
impressive to the ball player. 

" I told you once that you would not get a 
cent," said Comiskey. " I am going to keep my 
word. Here is a check for your full salary, but 
I am going to send it to your wife." 

Smith had never recovered his speech since the 

Two Pitch-Outs 185 

initial interview, but he managed to blurt out, 
once on the outside: 

11 Take it from me, he's a square sport." 

In that hectic game with the Tigers Jones 
finished his career as manager of the "White Sox. 
As a player he was done with the sport for ever, 
as he never faced another pitcher. Good-byes 
were said behind the screen as, true to his scrappy 
past, the umpires had ordered him off the field. 
Here he prophesied that the fans would vent their 
spleen on him for the disaster. It is a fact 
that they did and all because White had pitched 
in that first inning instead of Smith. 

I sat under the stand with Jones from the time 
he was banished from the field to the end of the 

" Why did I pick White? " he said in answer 
to a query. * ' I put him in because I figured him 
the best bet against the Tigers and because * Doc ' 
insisted. White had been a stumbling block for 
Detroit all season and he told me that he never 
felt better. The fans won't understand, though, 
and I will be * panned ' for fair." 

That the criticism of the fans had something to 
do with the determination of Jones not to return 
to Chicago is certain, but there was a weightier 
reason why the South Siders saw him no more. It 
was not a question of salary. It was something 

186 " Commy " 

bigger. Jones insisted on becoming a partner of 

" Name your own terms and I'll give you a 
contract for as many years as you care to remain," 
was Comiskey 's counter-proposal when Jones 
broached the question of partnership. 

" A partnership or nothing," was the ulti- 
matum of Jones and on that rock owner and 
manager split. 

The relationship between Comiskey and his 
manager had been intimate and each had a high 
regard for the other. Both had been cast in the 
same mold as regards baseball each being a 
superlatively hard loser. Both regarded the 
umpire as an objectionable appendage to the game. 
Neither could ever imagine an arbitrator with a 
friend during the playing season. 

Joe Cantillon, manager of the Minneapolis 
American Association team, had been close to 
Comiskey for years but friendship ceased the min- 
ute Joe was appointed an umpire in the early 
days of the game. The fact that the two hunted 
and fished together for five months after the close 
of the season does not blunt the point to the story. 

" I was umpiring in an important series between 
Baltimore and the Sox at the old Thirty-ninth 
street grounds," said Cantillon, in relating the 
incident. " The Sox got the short end of a few 

Two Pitch-Outs 187 

decisions on a Saturday and were defeated before 
a big crowd. On my way to the grounds on Sun- 
day I ran into a couple of friends of mine who 
asked me to take them into the game. I told them 
I would try, although I figured that they would 
have a better chance if they applied themselves. 

" Coming to the pass gate I asked the attend- 
ant to ask Comiskey, whom I saw standing in the 
distance, for a couple of tickets for my friends. 

" ' Sure,' he yelled so you could hear it out on 
the street, * let him bring in all the friends he 
has. He will need them all today. ' ' ' 

As they agreed about umpires, there came no 
harsh words from " Commy " when his manager 
started to wear a path between the plate and the 
bench. It was not long before Jones shared the 
dubious honor with Griffith, Comiskey 's first 
manager, of being ordered off the field more often 
than anyone in the major leagues. 

It was Jones who was indirectly responsible for 
one break between President Johnson and Comis- 
key, although he had no intention of being a party 
to the feud. It was during a tight race when 
Jones, after a run-in with the umpire, had been 
indefinitely suspended. Comiskey was hard up 
for players at this particular time and there was 
no one who could adequately substitute for the 
manager in center field. Coincident with the sus- 

188 " Commy " 

pension Johnson sent a mess of bass to Comis- 

" Does Ban want me to play the fish in the 
outfield f ' ' asked Commy, and the big row was on. 

That Comiskey could look beyond piscatorial 
differences became evident a couple of years later, 
and before a reconciliation between the two had 
been effected. Johnson was up for re-election as 
president of the league. Various suggestions were 
made regarding the length of term and salary 
attached to the office when Comiskey cut the 
debate short by making a motion that Johnson be 
elected for twenty years at $25,000 a year. "With 
all that the owner of the White Sox never changed 
his opinion of Johnson's umpires. 

With the departure of Fielder Jones came an 
era of experiments. Catcher Billy Sullivan was 
appointed pilot of the White Sox for 1909. An 
effort had been made to bolster up the hitting 
strength of the team but without avail as, at the 
close of the season, it showed a team average of 
.221, four points below the percentage of the pre- 
ceding year. Among those added to the team 
were Scott, Sutor and Olmstead, pitchers; Payne 
and Owens, catchers; Altizer, utility, and Mes- 
senger, Cravath, Cole, Welday and Barrows, out- 

Accidents became of daily occurrence. Jiggs 

Two Pitch-Outs 189 

Donohue failed at first. The terrific strain under 
which Walsh had worked began to tell on his iron 
constitution and he was far from effective. Smith, 
Scott and Sutor did good work but were unequal 
to the heavy burden and the team finished fourth, 
Detroit again winning, the Athletics and Boston 
coming next, while New York, Cleveland, St. 
Louis and Washington finished in the order named 
after Chicago. 

The Cubs, having been temporarily flagged in 
the attempt to create a pennant trust, an oppor- 
tunity was offered in the fall of 1909 for a city 
championship tilt. The Cubs nearly made a clean 
sweep, beating the Sox four out of five games. 

Before the following spring Sullivan resigned 
and Hugh Duffy, Comiskey's former teammate in 
the Brotherhood, took charge and continued as 
leader for two years. The pitching department 
was strengthened by the signing of Young and 
Lange, the catching by Block, the infield by Gan- 
dil, McConnell, Zeider, Lord and Blackburne, and 
the outfield by the acquisition of Chouinard, John 
Collins, Zwilling, Browne and Meloan. 

The gamble of the game was never better illus- 
trated than by the release of Chick Gandil, which 
followed a disappointing trial. A few years later 
this player was to return and round out the cham- 
poinship team of 1917. Blackburne furnished 

190 "Commy" 

another example. He was considered the star of 
the Eastern League and Comiskey paid $11,000 
for his release, a top figure at that time. Throw- 
ing his knee out of joint shortly after he had 
joined the Sox he became of little use to the team. 

Worse luck pursued the team than in the pre- 
vious year and the club was practically reorgan- 
ized in midseason, with Sullivan's recovery from 
blood poisoning. Lord, McConnell and Black - 
burne were then added and towards the close of 
the season the shakeup began to yield returns. 
Despite the lowest team batting of which a major 
league aggregation has ever been guilty .212 - 
the Sox finished sixth to the Athletics, with New 
York second, Detroit third, Boston fourth, Cleve- 
land fifth, Washington seventh and St. Louis last. 

The lowly standing of the Sox did not corre- 
spond to their environment at the end of the sea- 
son. During the year they had moved from the 
modest home on Thirty-ninth street to Thirty- 
fifth street and Shields avenue, where Comiskey 
had built the greatest ball park in the land. Grand 
stand and bleacher were of concrete and steel and 
were arranged to seat 28,500. Later these were 
enlarged to take care of 32,000, which was the 
capacity at the world 's series games in 1917. Sur- 
rounding the entire field is an ornamental brick 
wall. Only one field in the country exceeds it in 

Two Pitch-Outs 191 

size, the Boston National League park, which is 
deeper. The Polo Grounds in New York has tke 
depth but lacks the distance in right and left 

The cost of the park measured Comiskey's 
wealth at the time, which was well over the half- 
million mark. To-day the plant could not be 
duplicated for less than $1,000,000. Time and 
again when it was suggested that improvements 
at the old grounds would be appreciated Comis- 
key would always reply that as soon as he could 
pay cash for land and stands he would build a 
park which would be a monument to the game. 
He made good his word when the new park was 
thrown open on July 1. 

For a long time he had had his eye on the prop- 
erty on the site of the old Brotherhood grounds 
at 35th street and Wentworth avenue. When 
opportunity offered he closed the deal but on 
account of a clause in the lease he was unable to 
get control at the time of the actual spot on which 
the big revolt of 1890 had been staged. Conse- 
quently he was compelled to go several hundred 
feet further west than had been his original inten- 

It was no idle figure of speech when he 
announced that the new home of the Sox was 
dedicated to the fans. Most everybody took him 

192 " Commy " 

at his word and thousands have appropriated a 
share since then. Seldom have the gates been 
closed. The feet of thousands have trampled on 
the grass, which never had a chance to grow up. 
Church festivals, barbercues, free lance games, 
meets of all descriptions, picnics and fairs have 
had their turn at " Commy 's Park." On the 
walls of his office hang engraved testimonials to 
his generosity, but none tells the anguish of 
ground keepers or gives a hint at the fortunes 
spent in making the field fit for the regular 

Some years ago " auto polo " became the rage. 
Some of Comiskey's friends were interested in its 
promotion. Could they have the use of the field? 
Certainly, and " use " it they did. Up in the 
stand sat Comiskey watching the two contesting 
cars chop his field into ribbons. It cost him 
$400 to repair the damage. When it was 
over he set up a " feed " to everybody who 
wished to partake of it and he never charged a 1 
cent for the use of the grounds. 

" Why do you permit every Tom, Dick and 
Harry to use your field? " asked a fellow mag- 
nate once. 

" How could I refuse? " queried the " Old 
Roman." " The fans built the park, didn't 
they? " 

Two Pitch-Outs 193 

It is this attitude which explains the loyalty of 
the White Sox fan. Win or lose it is all the same. 
They know that whatever the circumstances they 
will get a square deal. When Comiskey first 
ordered the covered stand thrown open to his 
bleacher patrons on rainy days there were a few 
complaints from those who had invested in the 
more expensive seats. 

" Well, I don't think the majority sit in the 
bleachers from choice," parried Comiskey. 
" Baseball has grown, but the pocketbooks of 
some of our patrons have not. As I can't get 
them all in my office I have to do the best I can 
to keep them from getting wet." 

Depending on his employes to -look after the 
comfort of the fans in the stands he himself took 
charge of the entertainment indoors. Over the 
half-dozen entrances leading into the grand stand 
he built his offices and reception rooms. The 
Woodland Bards ' room is the center of the latter. 
Here gather the members of this exclusive organi- 
zation which now consists of several hundred, to 
gaze on the trophies of the chase and the rod. In 
addition there are priceless mementoes of the ball 
field gifts from the great of the earth, prized 
souvenirs collected from every part of the world. 
Open house, with the good things of life on tap, 
is kept 365 days in the year. There is not a coun- 

194. " Commy " 

try on earth which has not had its representatives 
inside its four walls. 

Newcomers always insist on seeing " Commy." 
For everybody there is a " feel at home " greet- 
ing. The visitor leaves with the impression that 
he has known the " Old Roman " all his life. 

" How can you stand being slapped on the 
back all day long? " was asked of Comiskey. 

'" The minute they stop I want to die," was 
his answer, and it was not said in the spirit of self 
adulation, either. " There is nothing I enjoy 
more than to see others enjoy themselves. When 
the gang quits I am through." 

The more aristocratic surroundings seemed to 
influence the team to nobler deeds in 1911, and it 
finished fourth with the Athletics again winners. 
Detroit and Cleveland wound up in second and 
third place, respectively, while Boston was fifth, 
New York sixth, Washington seventh and St. 
Louis eighth. 

The changes in the lineup had been slight, the 
more important being the addition of Kreitz to 
the catching staff, Mullin and Corhan to the 
infield, Ping Bodie (Pizzola) and Mclntyre to the 
outfield and the return of Jimmy Callahan, who 
went to left field. 

The new talent boosted the team batting to a 
higher point than it had been in ten years. Me- 

Two Pitch-Outs 195 

Intyre and Lord brought up the average and 
Bodie, who came with a high reputation from the 
Pacific Coast League, did his part, but did not 
quite come up to expectations. 

Comiskey had high hopes of Bodie, especially 
after it had cost him $10 for an introduction. The 
Sox trained at Mineral Wells that spring. 
' * Commy ' ' was sitting in the lobby of the hotel, 
talking with friends, when the robust Californian 
hove to in front of him. 

" Could you stand for a $10 advance, 
Commy f " asked the massive athlete. 

" Sure," answered the Sox owner. " Tell 
White (manager of the rookies) to give you the 
money. ' ' 

" Who was he? " someone asked. 

11 I haven't met him socially yet," answered 
the Sox boss, " but I saw him put the ball over 
the fence yesterday and I'll stand a tap for any- 
body that can do that." 

It was not unusual for Comiskey not to know 
half of the rookies that appeared in the spring. 
In the anxiety to get a winning team he purchased 
them practically by the carload. If one or two 
made good out of the lot he considered he had 
made a good investment. 

Not being able to pick them out himself he 
trusted to others to see that they showed up 

196 " Commy " 

with at least the normal number of legs and arms. 
Frequently, however, he got bit. Not many years 
ago he signed a player, touted as a wonder by an 
Iowa manager. When he reported Comiskey dis- 
covered that it was possible to sneak up on him on 
his blind side as he had only one eye. 

Although his bunch of recruits failed to fur- 
nish any major league talent the Sox were kept 
fairly well to the front by the great work of Ed 
Walsh. When the time rolled around for the 
annual set-to with the Cubs the ball he served up 
was again cutting strange capers. Mainly 
through the " Iron Man's " pitching the Sox 
made a clean sweep, winning four games in a 
row. Walsh figured in three. He won the first 
and fourth and finished the second. Adding the 
three to his season's record he had participated 
in 58 games since spring. 

Jimmy Callahan returned to the managership 
in 1912 and he remained as pilot until the close 
of the 1914 season. With the switch came a search 
for baseball talent. The net was spread the coun- 
try over and when the season closed the follow- 
ing newcomers had figured on the pay roll : Peters, 
Cicotte, Benz, Delhi, Jordan, Bell and Taylor, 
pitchers; Kuhn, Easterly and Schalk, catchers; 
Borton, Pournier, Johnson, Weaver, Paddock, 
Ens and Rath, infielders, and Mattick, outfielder. 

Two Pitch-Outs 197 

During the final games the battery of Cicotte 
and Schalk was paraded before the fans, a pair 
destined to become headliners in Comiskey's cap- 
ture of his fourth American league pennant and 
his third world's flag. Both were of the " Wee 
Willie " type. Cicotte, the pitcher, was rated as 
a veteran. The catcher was not old enough to 
vote. The Boston American League contributed 
Cicotte. The Milwaukee American Association 
turned over Kay Schalk for a cash consideration 
of $18,000. 

Schalk appeared on the Sox field towards the 
end of the season. His first job was to warm up 
Ed Walsh in pitching practice. The big fellow, 
whom doting fans had nicknamed the " Big 
Moose," sized up the youngster behind the plate 
and felt compassion in his soul. He motioned to 

" You have probably heard that I throw a ball 
hard to catch," warned Walsh. " There is also 
some speed behind it but I'll just ease 'em in. I 
don't want to queer you." 

Schalk thanked him but expressed curiosity as 
to how speedy he could hand them up. It was 
tradition that Walsh's neck assumed a carmine 
tint in proportion to his physical effort. He 
never left the box with a more ruddy sunset above 
his collar than he did after that warm-up. High 

198 " Commy " 

and low, in and out, they came, spitter, curve and 
straight. All looked alike to the pigmy back 
stop, who acted as if he was suffering from ennui. 

Walsh did not discuss further his cannon-ball 
delivery but he suggested to Callahan that he 
would like to have the diminutive catcher as bat- 
tery mate for the rest of the season. As a mat- 
ter of fact, despite his terrific speed, Schalk 
always insisted that Walsh was one of the easiest 
of pitchers to catch. On the other hand he has 
contended that Urban Faber throws one of the 
11 heaviest " balls ever handled although the lat- 
ter does not use as fast a delivery as did Walsh. 

Another player who came to the front in 1912 
was Buck Weaver, the firebrand of the team. 
Buck had been brought from the Pacific Coast, 
where he had nearly set a record for errors, hav- 
ing accumulated 70 in 132 games, while playing 
the infield. 

The three Cicotte, Schalk and Weaver 
formed a nucleus for the world's champions of 
1917, but they were unable to do more than to 
lend a helping hand for a fourth place position 
in the 1912 pennant race. Boston captured the 
flag. Washington and Philadelphia were next, 
while following Chicago were Cleveland, Detroit, 
St. Louis and New York. 

With the regular season over the Cubs and Sox 

Two Pitch-Outs 199 

went into a clinch for the annual Chicago title 
series. It took nine games to decide the winner. 
The first two were ties. The next three were won 
by the Nationals and then followed an exhibition 
of gameness seldom equalled, the Sox winning 
four in a row and adding another banner to its 

With the curtain rung down the mighty Ed 
Walsh practically faded from view. He had fig- 
ured in 62 games during the season, within four 
of the mark which he set in 1908. He dropped to 
16 in 1913, another year of additions to the Sox, 
but with a lower standing in the race. Fifth was 
the best they could get, while ahead of them were 
the Athletics, Washington, Cleveland and Bos- 
ton, with Detroit, New York and St. Louis bring- 
ing up the rear. 

Among the newcomers on the team had been 
O'Brien and Russell, pitchers; Chase and Berger, 
infielders; Chapelle, Beall and Schaller, outfield- 

Chapelle figured in the second $18,000 deal 
between Comiskey and the Milwaukee team. He 
had been the fence buster in the American Asso- 
ciation but failed to deliver for Chicago. This 
was, however, partly due to an injury sustained 
in the spring. 

As a matter of form the Sox and Cubs went to 

200 " Commy " 

grips for the city championship in the fall, the 
American Leaguers winning four out of six 
games. With the series concluded Comiskey and 
Callahan made haste to prepare for the historic 
trip around the world. 

Late to get under way for the 1914 season, the 
Sox failed to " arrive," winding up in seventh 
place in the pennant race in one of the most disas- 
trous campaigns in which a Comiskey team has 
ever participated. Leading Chicago to the wire 
were the Athletics, Boston, Washington, Detroit, 
St. Louis and New York. Cleveland finished 
below the Sox. 

New names on the roster were Breton, Alcock 
and Baker, infielders; Demmitt, Both and Daly, 
outfielders; Mayer, catcher, and Lathrop, Faber 
and Wolfgang, pitchers. 

Despite their lowly standing the Sox again 
defeated the Cubs in the city series, four games 
to three. 


Clarence Rowland at the helm Collins and Jack- 
son make Comiskey poorer by $130,500 Two years 
without poker Story of the Federal League war 
Charles Weeghman "sits in" Sox win American 
League pennant Whip the New York Giants for 
the world's title. 

Comiskey entered upon a new era in baseball 
just prior to the season of 1915. He went to the 
" sticks " for a manager and to the majors for 
players, completely reversing his policy of former 
years. In Dubuque, Iowa, he dug up Clarence 
H. Rowland, who in the previous season had 
piloted the Peoria team of the * l Three I ' ' League. 
Jimmy Callahan, disappointed over the showing 
of the team, had resigned, and the * * busher ' ' took 
the helm. In three years, aided by an unlimited 
bank roll, he was destined to win a pennant and 
a world's championship for the man who discov- 
ered him. 

Up to this time Comiskey had spent more for 
minor league players than both of his ball parks 
had cost him. Few had made good. With the 


202 " Commy " 

change of administration he decided to take 
another tack. He would go after the finished 
product. Coincident with this resolution Connie 
Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics was meditat- 
ing the breaking up of his famous combination 
of pennant winners. Comiskey heard of it and 
acted. Catching a fast train for the east, in com- 
pany with Ban Johnson, he closed the deal for 
Eddie Collins, sensational second baseman of 
Mack's team. 

The transaction set a record. Before Comiskey 
had succeeded in signing the keystone star, who 
had doubled in baseball and logic at the Columbia 
University, his bank account had been reduced 
to the extent of $65,000. Connie Mack received 
$50,000 and Collins was given a bonus of $15,000 
for attaching his signature to a five-year contract 
which called for $15,000 a year. 

Later in the season, with the Cleveland club in 
the hands of the bankers, " Commy " sent his 
secretary, Harry Grabiner, to the Forest City with 
instructions to buy Jackson, to fame known as 
" sockless Joe,'* and one of the leading hitters 
in the league. 

" How far will you go? " asked Grabiner as he 
was handed the signed but otherwise blank check. 

" The blank space is for you to fill in," was 
Comiskey 's response. 

Purse Strings Are Untied 203 

Jackson was signed. The men who had the club 
in charge were given a check for $31,500 and an 
option on three players. After this had been exer- 
cised the Sox owner scratched from his books 
Chappelle, who had cost him $18,000 ; Bobby Roth, 
who stood him $11,000, and Edward Klepfer, 
originally bought for $5,000. The total made $65,- 
500, and another new record had been set. 

Having plugged up his infield and outfield with 
major league talent Comiskey took a $12,000 jour- 
ney into the minor leagues. In the American 
Association a Milwaukee youth by the name of 
Felsch, christened " Happy " by the fans on 
account of his sunny disposition, had been burn- 
ing up the league with his hitting and outfield- 

" How much? " wired Comiskey to the owners 
in Milwaukee. 

" You may have him for $12,000," came the 

Comiskey hauled out his check book and Felsch 
became a member of the White Sox. He imme- 
diately proceeded to set the American League on 
fire as he had scorched the Association. He was 
not in Speaker's, Cobb's or Jackson's class as a 
hitter at the start but he could show each some 
pointers on how to field. Throwing the ball like 
a rifle shot unerringly from deep center to the 

204 " Commy " 

plate without being set for the heave was one of 
his accomplishments and many maintain that as 
a center fielder he has no superior. 

Although Felsch had few weaknesses on the 
ball field he had a failing while in civilian attire. 
" Happy " insisted in staying in every pot in the 
royal game of draw, a procedure which tended to 
a wide distribution of the contents of his pay 
envelope twice a month. Manager Rowland con- 
cluded that continually drawing two cards to a 
flush or repeated efforts to fill inside straights 
would, in time, cloud his sunny disposition, and 
he shut down on the game. For two years the 
White Sox went pokerless, except for a brief 
interval, a predicament in which no club had ever 
found itself before or probably since. 

Managerial dictum having banished the paste- 
boards temporarily the players themselves, 
shortly afterwards, made the unusual departure 
from established customs permanent. Rowland 
had reinstated the 25-cent limit game after he had 
exacted a promise from Felsch that the latter 
would be more circumspect in calling for cards, 
but the life of the game was limited to half a . 
dozen sessions. Buck Weaver had a bad even- 
ing, dealt some harsh comments along with the 
cards, remembered them the next day and came to 
the conclusion that the indoor pastime might 

Purse Strings Are Untied 205 

affect his playing outdoors. The morning follow- 
ing Buck canie to the manager with this proposal : 

" If you see me in another game of poker 
before August 1 fine me $100." 

" That goes for me, too," echoed half a dozen 

With the period of grace up the Sox were in 
the thick of the pennant fight and as no one started 
to shuffle the cards the ban held for the balance 
of the season. An exception should be noted, 
however. A regular game was always going on 
in the rear of the Pullman when the team was on 
the road. It went under the term of " paresis " 
with the deuces and joker wild and the players 
twice as riotous. Eddie Collins was the 
' * banker ' ' and the stakes sometimes went as high 
as a dime if somebody raised the plunger who 
opened it. 

Nemo Liebold was separated from the Cleve- 
land club during the 1915 season by Comiskey. 
Nemo, besides being a hard man to pitch to, was 
the fortunate possessor of a " baby stare " in, 
the indoor pastime, a great asset while the game 
lasted. Eddie Murphy pried himself loose from 
Connie Mack's slipping champions in order to 
have the privilege of sitting in with his former 
teammate, Eddie Collins. Add Quinlan, Johns 
and Brief and the recruits are accounted for. 

206 " Commy " 

Inability to get an even break in the series with 
Boston, Detroit and Washington during the sea- 
son put the White Sox in third place despite the 
outlay of over $150,000 for players. Boston and 
Detroit finished ahead of the Sox, while Washing- 
ton, New York, St. Louis, Cleveland and the Ath- 
letics trailed. 

In the fall series with the Cubs the Sox, as had 
become their habit, won easily, capturing four out 
of five games. With the final game the West Side 
Ball Park ceased to be a battle ground for the two 
rival teams. During the following winter Charles 
W. Murphy sold the Cubs to Charles H. Weegh- 
man, who combined them with his Federal League 
team, thus bringing to a close the experiment of 
trisecting Chicago's baseball map. The North 
Side now became the permanent home of the new 

Mr. Weeghman, who succeeded Mr. Murphy as 
president of the club, was a Chicago business man, 
fan and good fellow, and had been one of the prin- 
cipal figures in the Federal League war which 
raged during 1914 and 1915. As the " outlaw ' 
league had but little influence on the fortunes of 
the White Sox only a brief outline of its history 
will be given in these pages. 

The league was founded on the theory that 
" money will make the mare go." Its promoters 

Purse Strings Are Untied 207 

originated the perambulating bank which con- 
sisted of a satchel crammed with $1,000 bills. It 
was carried around the country guarded by Jim 
Gilmore, president of the league, John B. Ward 
of Brooklyn, Phil. Ball of St. Louis and Charles 
H. Weeghman of Chicago. Whenever a draft on 
major league talent was made the satchel would 
be opened and the contents would be dumped in 
the. center of a table. If this did not make an 
impression on the player the promoters took the 
next train. 

Fabulous salaries were offered. Some were 
accepted. Walter Johnson, under contract to the 
Washington club of the American League, was 
tendered a three-year contract by President 
Weeghman at $20,000 a year. Ty Cobb, Tris 
Speaker and others were offered as much. 
Speaker, who was a member of the Comiskey- 
McGraw world tour party, was apprised of his 
good fortune through a cablegram which finally 
caught up with him at Paris. Through an acci- 
dent the message fell into the hands of John 
McGraw and the cat was out of the bag. The 
cables sizzled back and forth. The Giants' man- 
ager conferred with Comiskey. The latter 
refused to get excited. 

" I don't see why I should interfere," asserted 
the * * Old Roman. " "If there is a bunch of men 

208 " Commy " 

who wants to lose a lot of money in baseball it is 
none of my business. My club will be in Cali- 
fornia training camp on the scheduled date and 
I expect that most of the players will show up 
as usual." 

Comiskey's prediction came true. Not a single 
regular player jumped the White Sox for the Fed- 
erals. They all reported on time. Afterwards it 
turned out that a secret agreement had been made 
not to " monkey " with Commy 's players. 

11 The man who whipped the National League 
should be let alone," was the advice of President 

This, however, did not prevent the " Fed " 
magnates from having a reception committee of 
their own when the Lusitania arrived in New York 
with the tourists. The rivalry of organized and 
unorganized baseball owners to get in touch with 
the players on board assumed an opera bouffe 
character. Each feared for the " evil " counsel 
of the other. Both were equally anxious to set 
the player " right "as to the real situation. All 
tried to reach the ship at quarantine. The organ- 
ized baseball forces won and plowed their way 
through a snow storm on a revenue cutter to the 
big liner. This maneuver postponed the opening 
of the " satchel " until the players landed. 

The pickings from the world tour bunch was 

THE first real present for the Sox fans was Eddie Collins. Miss 
South Side is proudly toting the $50,000 beauty home, led by the 
Old Roman. Cartoonist Sidney Smith gives a hint of other gifts to 
follow in the armful of packages carried by " Commy." He guessed 
rightly. Joe Jackson was among them. 

Purse Strings Are Untied 209 

comparatively small as only four out of twenty- 
three players joined the third league. 

The raid for the rest of the season was confined 
mostly to the National League. When it came to 
territory, there was opposition in only two Amer- 
ican League cities while the National had to con- 
tend against four rival clubs. Chicago, St. Louis, 
Pittsburgh and Brooklyn were the major league 
cities invaded. Indianapolis, Baltimore, Buffalo 
and Kansas City made up the rest of the circuit. 
Indianapolis, which had also won the pennant in 
a much restricted Federal League circuit in 1913, 
captured the flag in 1914. Chicago was second. 

The only cities in which the Federals actually 
built for the future were Chicago and Brooklyn. 
In each steel and concrete stands were erected and 
the plants compared favorably with the best in 
the land. 

The fight was continued during the season of 
1915, in which year Chicago carried off the pen- 
nant. President Gilmore dug up more and more 
" millionaires " and the contents of the satchel 
were always in the center of the table. In the 
heat of the battle, during the middle of the sea- 
son, it was decided to sign some of Comiskey's 
players. The effort proved a complete failure. 
The players stuck to the " Old Roman." Before 
the end of the season came overtures for peace. 

210 " Commy " 

At its close a peace agreement was reached, the 
major leagues taking over the players and certain 
properties of the Federal. 

The experiment of a third league proved a 
colossal failure. The losses incurred by all three 
organizations were enormous. It was claimed that 
John B. Ward had put nearly $700,000 into the 
Federal venture. Others contributed in propor- 
tion to their wealth or enthusiasm for the cause. 
The losses of organized baseball consisted mostly 
in a lessened attendance, defection of players and 
the obligations assumed at the settlement. 

Prior to the peace agreement the Federal League 
had entered suit against the two major leagues 
which was heard by Judge Kenesaw Mountain 
Landis, in the Federal Court at Chicago. The 
fight was made principally on the " reserve 
clause," a rule which bound the player to a par- 
ticular club, until released. Decision was never 
rendered, Judge Landis at various times hinting 
that if he should be compelled to cut the Gordian 
knot the entire baseball structure would crumble. 

It was during the hearing that Judge Landis 
handed down the opinion that baseball must be 
regarded as a " national institution." 

No player from his club having jumped during 
the hostilities Comiskey did not profit by the 
return of the prodigals when the agreement was 

Purse Strings Are Untied 211 

signed and at the beginning of the 1916 season 
two infield positions were still " vacant." Jack 
Ness, Fred McMullin and Zeb Terry were signed 
to try for them. Claude Williams and Dave Dan- 
forth were added to the pitching staff, while the 
veteran John Lapp became change catcher. 

Principally due to Eddie Cicotte's wonderful 
work in the box the team landed in second place 
after a terrific battle with Boston clear down to 
the wire, with Detroit only a few points behind. 
Below the Tigers were New York, St. Louis, 
Cleveland, Washington and Philadelphia in order 

Although the Cubs had changed owners their 
luck had not and the fall series with the White 
Sox was a mere formality, the Americans winning 
four straight games. 

The race in 1916 had been close enough to give 
the fans a foretaste of what was coming, and the 
followers of the Sox were vociferous but not sur- 
prised when Comiskey, after a wait of eleven 
years, ' ' arrived ' ' in 1917. It was his fourth flag 
in the American League. When he defeated the 
New York Giants he hung up his third world's 
championship emblem. 

The Sox had had a hard fight in their own 
league and were pursued by Boston clear to the 
end. Nearest to the Red Sox were Cleveland, 

212 " Commy " 

Detroit, Washington, New York, St. Louis and 
Philadelphia in order. 

Beginning the 1917 season Comiskey, having 
tried ever since the release of Jiggs Donohue to 
plug the hole at first base, eventually succeeded, 
and Chick Gandil, purchased from Cleveland, at 
last rounded out the team. Eddie Cicotte's phe- 
nomenal pitching did the rest and the team fin- 
ished with 100 games won and 54 lost. Charles 
Kisberg was added to the infield and Byrd Lynn 
to the catching staff. 

Envious rivals insisted that the White Sox rode 
to the front on Cicotte's mysterious " shine ball," 
a delivery which blinded some of the greatest 
sluggers in the league. The ' ' jump ball ' ' of Dave 
Danf orth also served to clutter up President John- 
son 's desk with horsehide exhibits. Protests, 
strategy boards and chemical analysis, all failed 
and the riddle remains unsolved. 

With the flag clinched the Sox were primed 
for the grand windup. The Giants had ridden 
rough shod over the rest of the contenders in the 
National League and had won the bunting in their 
own organization with a trifle greater ease than 
had Chicago. John McGraw, Comiskey 's world- 
tour partner, was in command of New York's best. 
It was the Napoleon of the game against the 
" busher " and fortune favored the " unknown." 

Purse Strings Are Untied 213 

Six games, equally divided between mediocrity 
and brilliancy, were played, and of these the 
White Sox won four. The first two were played 
in Chicago. The home club won both, by the 
scores of 2 to 1 and 7 to 2. 

Brilliant pitching by Eube Benton helped to 
shut out the White Sox 2 to in the first game 
at New York. Schupp repeated in the second, on 
the same field, the Giants winning 5 to 0, and the 
series stood at evens. Chicago took the next at 
home 8 to 5 and clinched the championship by 
annexing the sixth and last contest on the Polo 
Grounds, by the score of 4 to 2. 

Featuring newspaper " leads " the morning 
after the final game, was the thrilling narrative 
of a footrace between Heinie Zimmerman and 
Eddie Collins, a sprint which practically decided 
the winner. It happened in Chicago 's half of the 
fourth inning. Zimmerman, playing third base 
for New York, made a wild throw to first on 
Collins and the Chicago captain reached second. 
Joe Jackson lifted a fly to Robertson, who 
dropped the ball, and Collins ran to third. 

When Felsch hit to Pitcher Benton, Collins pur- 
posely made a bluff at going home. Benton, 
observing the maneuver, ran towards the third 
base line to turn Collins back, eventually throwing 
to Zimmerman. Catcher Eariden, in the mean- 

214 " Commy " 

time, had run up the line leaving the plate unpro- 
tected. Collins, sizing up the prospects, darted 
towards home. Zimmerman was now in the unen- 
viable fix of being unable to let go of the ball as he 
had no one to throw it to. It was up to him to tag 
Eddie. His lack of speed, as the $50,000 beauty 
romped home, furnished the material for the 
ditty, " You can't catch me, Heinie Zim." 

Fate has set apart a " goat " in every world's 
series. Zimmerman became the burden bearer in 
the 1917 title clash, but undeservedly so. Critics, 
after a second sober thought, could devise no 
strategy which would have relieved Heinie of the 
responsibility which had been thrust upon him by 

If artistically the games fell below par the finan- 
cial returns were on a scale which had been 
exceeded but once before the Boston-New York 
series of 1912. The side embellishments ranged 
from baked muskies to special trains. Of the lat- 
ter Comiskey had five, two for the rooters to and 
from New York for the third and fourth games 
and three for players and newspaper men on each 
trip between the two cities. 

The receipts for the six games were $425,000. 
Comiskey 's share was in the neighborhood of 
$100,000. In 1885, in his first world's series 
experiment the total taken in at the gates 

Purse Strings Are Untied 215 

amounted to $2,000, but he enjoyed his portion a 
great deal more than he did thirty-two years later. 
There were no ticket problems and no scalpers in 
those days. 

After the series Comiskey was a candidate 
for the sanitarium. Approximately 200,000 
clamored for the privilege of buying tickets for the 
first game. There were only 32,000 seats. 

With the Sox the world's champions the fans, 
of course, forgot all about their inability to get 
the requisite number of pasteboards. They started 
rooting for next season the minute the last ball 
had been pitched. They would have done the 
same had their favorites lost. I happened to be 
at the Sox Park a few days after the series had 
ended. A ' ' hey there, ' ' from outside brought the 
office force to the windows fronting on Thirty- 
fifth street. A coal wagon had been halted. 

" Joe Jackson coming back next season? " 
shouted the grimy charioteer. 

" Sure." 

" And Ci-cot-tee? " 

" Certainly." 

" Great. The boys around the yard wanted to 
know! Giddap," and the horses disappeared 
under the viaduct. 

Shot to pieces by enlistments and drafts the 
White Sox failed to make any kind of showing 

216 " Commy " 

during the season of 1918. After a bumpy race 
they finished sixth, Boston winning the pennant 
with Cleveland, Washington, New York and St. 
Louis ahead of the Sox in order named, Detroit 
and Philadelphia alone barring the way to the 
cellar. Owing to the frequent departure of 
players no real effort could be made to plug up 
the holes and of the dozen recruits signed only 
one or two came up to the mark. 

With the opening of the 1919 season a new 
manager was given command of the White Sox. 
Clarence Rowland had become a stockholder in 
the Milwaukee American Association club and 
" Kid " Gleason, who had with the exception of 
one season acted as coach since 1912, took charge. 
Gleason is of the old school of baseball but is not 
the ' ' Kid ' ' of the former St. Louis Browns. The 
Sox manager started in as a pitcher and later 
became a star infielder. 

Gleason is the optimist among managers and 
possesses the faculty of being a Simon Legree 
without the players finding out about it. His 
admirable personal traits, rugged honesty and 
aggressive tactics have made him one of the most 
popular leaders the Sox ever had. 

Early in the season of 1919 the White Sox, 
under the brilliant leadership of Gleason, took 
their rightful place in the sun. They forged to 

Purse Strings Are Untied 217 

the front and stayed there. They ceased to be 
the " hitless wonders " and became the hitting 
terrors of the league. In team batting they passed 
the .280 mark on different occasions, leading the 
league practically throughout the season. Their 
defensive work was equally as brilliant, the team 
being near the front row most of the time. 

The feat of acting as pacemakers for the greater 
part of the season was enough to set them apart 
from other combinations, past or present. As a 
fighting aggregation they were in a class by them- 
selves. Coming from behind and winning became 
a habit. 

The players who found their stride after the 
disastrous 1918 season were familiar to the Sox 
fans. The old faces were back. Most of the new 
ones decorated the bench. Pitcher Richard Kerr 
was the exception. This sterling twirler, bought 
from the Milwaukee American Association team, 
did yeoman service for a pitching staff which had 
been counted woefully weak but which, at the 
finish, held its own against all comers. Cicotte 
* ' repeated. ' ' Claude Williams came back. Later 
on were added the veterans George Lowdermilk, 
Erskine Mayer and Bill James. Urban Faber 
had a hard time getting in condition. Benz, Rus- 
sell and Shellenback were missing. 

Schalk did the catching and rang up a record 

218 " Commy " 

of catching in 100 games per year in six consecu- 
tive years. The playing of Gandil, E. Collins, 
Weaver, McMullin and Risberg in the infield was 
the sensation of the league. Equally brilliant 
were the performances of Jackson, Felsch, Lie- 
bold and John Collins in the outfield. 

Comiskey watched the team month after month 
and near the waning of the season could say that 
the White Sox were then the greatest team he 
ever had anything to do with. 

" It is a wonderful combination the greatest 
team I ever had," he said. " I can't pick out 
individuals because they are all giants in base- 
ball. It is by all odds the greatest team in the 
American League. I couldn't pass a higher com- 
pliment. I can afford to single out one, Kid Glea- 
son, because he is a manager. He has kept pace 
with the team and that means something. 

"It is the best bunch of fighters I ever saw. 
No game is lost until the last man is out. They 
can think for themselves which is still better. To 
say that I am proud of them is putting it mildly. 
They have been setting the pace most of the time 
and no other team deserves being in front more 
than they." 



Comiskey and McGraw start on a long journey 
Many lands get a glimpse of the Sox and Giants 
World's tour consumes 142 days High jinks on 
the sea Nation's great in the receiving line 
Hard task is assigned Statue of Liberty. 

"While winning championships for Chris von der 
Ahe, Comiskey had dreamed of touring the world 
with a baseball team. When A. G. Spalding antici- 
pated him in 1888 the manager of the Browns was 
disappointed but not broken-hearted. He would 
bide his time, but then and there he decided that 
he would head his own team when the omens were 
propitious for the journey. He had been one of 
the first to get an invitation from Spalding but 
Von der Ahe objected and " Commy " stayed at 
at home. 

Fortune having smiled on his undertakings he 
was ready to start in 1913. He had contemplated 
an earlier getaway. In fact the trip was the 
consummation of seven years of preparation. 
Immediately after winning the world's champion- 


220 " Commy " 

ship in 1906 " Commy " had announced that a 
world's tour was the next thing on the program. 
All he needed was a partner, It took him seven 
years to get one. Financial considerations had 
not figured, as the White Sox owner had let it be 
known that he would assume all the responsibili- 
ties. This he didn't have to do, as John Mc- 
Graw, manager of the Giants, had persuaded the 
owners of the New York club to permit him to 
" borrow " the team for a trip. 

It has been erroneously stated that the stock- 
holders of the Gotham club backed McGraw. 
Nothing is farther from the truth. John McGraw 
took all the risk himself and it meant pledging 
his entire fortune. McGraw knew nothing about 
the intention of Comiskey to bear all the losses, 
if any, for both teams. His gameness, however, 
was appreciated and by none more than Comiskey. 

The plans for the journey were perfected dur- 
ing the summer of 1913, and advance agents sent 
on ahead. The arrangements included special 
trains and other specialties. The best hotel accom- 
modations that could be obtained were contracted 
for the world around. The sky was the limit and 
long before the season was over the obligations 
assumed approached the $100,000 mark. Solici- 
tous friends of both promoters became anxious. 
Experienced globe trotters were free with their 

Dig Spikes in Five Continents 221 

advice. A fortune would be lost if the elaborate 
plans were persisted in. 

" Too bad I wasn't told that before I handed 
the steamship company my check for $90,000," 
said Comiskey with a smile. 

To make certain that he would have enough for 
emergencies the " Old Koman " bought a letter 
of credit for 25,000 pounds sterling, approximately 
$121,000. McGraw carried a more modest account, 
but at that ample for all contingencies. 

The interval between the departures of the first 
and second world tourists measured twenty-five 
years, lacking a day. Spalding and his party 
headed through the Golden Gate Nov. 18, 1888; 
Comiskey and McGraw with their White Sox and 
Giants, sailed from Seattle Nov. 19, 1913. Japan, 
China and the Philippines had been outside the 
itinerary of the original globe trotters. The 
twentieth century tourists were to exhibit before 
the little brown men of the Mikado's kingdom, 
the almond-eyed celestials and before the 
reformed head hunters of Uncle Sam 's island pos- 
sessions. They would not get a glimpse of Mauna 
Loa nor get a chance to entertain the Maoris 
of New Zealand, but to make up for these geo- 
graphical misses, America's national game would 
be expounded to Nipponese and Chinese, Moro 
and Hindu. 

222 " Commy " 

Differing from the first world tour, there was no 
uncertainty as to the lanes to be followed. The 
first travelers had originally contemplated only 
a trip to the Antipodes. It was not until the 
party reached Australia that it was determined 
to complete the circle. 

Comiskey and McGraw had mapped out every 
foot of the journey weeks before they left Chicago. 
They never deviated a hair's breadth from the 
schedule with the exception of cutting their stay 
in Japan short three days, due to failure of the 
ship to arrive on time. There were round-the- 
world tickets for 67 people in the hands of the 
secretaries at the start. One of these had seen 
enough salt water on the way to Yokohama and 
decided to stick to land as much as possible. Tak- 
ing the overland trip through Siberia he met the 
party at Naples three months later. Another one 
was originally booked only as far as Japan and 
this left 66 for the ' ' round trip. ' ' 

The two trips were also dissimilar in another 
important respect aside from the route followed. 
While the primary reason for Spalding's jaunt 
was to introduce baseball to the benign in foreign 
lands, advantage was taken of the opportunity 
to show the superiority of America's sporting 
goods. There was nothing reprehensible in this, 
but the commercial touch marked the contrast. 

Dig Spikes in Five Continents 223 

Comiskey and McGraw made their pilgrimage dis- 
tinctly a " sporting " proposition. 

Perhaps the disinterested motives influenced 
the great of the earth to treat the visitors as 
official emissaries of the great American repub- 
lic. Thus the " Old Roman " and his partner 
were congratulated on their enterprise and on the 
game by the highest in the Mikado's government. 
Shanghai and Hongkong gave them their best. 
The keys of Manila were theirs. Lord Denman, 
governor general of Australia, not only enter- 
tained the pilgrims in his official mansion, but in 
addition was initiated into the mysteries of the 
curve. The Khedive of Egypt personally thanked 
" Commy " and McGraw for their visit to the 
land of the Sphinx. The Italian government was 
equally solicitous as was the French, which turned 
over the nationally owned Longchamps race track 
in Paris for the game, which, however, was not 

As a climax to ovations which belted the globe 
came verbal congratulations from the head of the 
greatest empire on earth, King George V of Eng- 
land, after he had witnessed a sensational eleven- 
inning game in London. 

Aside from national recognition there was not 
a city or state visited which was not lavish in its 
hospitality. Dennison, Texas, staid up nearly 

224 " Commy " 

all night for a chance to entertain the tourists; 
Osaka, Japan, bestirred itself at dawn in order 
to show its appreciation. Eeceptions and ban- 
quets followed each other with bewildering fre- 
quency and eight months ' training alone saved the 
athletes from wreck on gastronomic shoals. 

In the United States the players were on the 
road 33 days. About that number of banquets 
were tendered. Train schedules knocked out a 
few. The athletes stood up manfully to the bal- 
ance, even though groggy when they encountered 
a 125-pound cake, donated by a railroad company, 
at Seattle. By the time they had run the gauntlet 
of another score or so abroad, the party had come 
to the conclusion that the warmth of the greetings 
had nothing to do with the size of the town. The 
ceremonies in Blue Rapids, Kansas, were as im- 
pressive as were those in London, even though the 
world's metropolis had the bulge on the gold lace. 

As for the game itself, the players soon dis- 
covered that all the enthusiasm was not confined 
to the states. They encountered as much noise 
in Tokio as they had under the lee of Coogan's 
Bluff and the racket which greeted the tourists in 
Manila developed as much lung power as did the 
most approved concert on a busy day in the bleach- 
ers at Comiskey's Park. 

Native China, alone, showed reserve. When it 

/^ HARLES A. COMISKEY has the distinction of being the first 
V^/ club-owner to use special trains to carry his players across the 
country. In this wintry picture, " Commy " is shown standing in the 
snow of Chicago just before the White Sox palace-on-wheels left on the 
spring training trip. Standing to the right of the Old Roman is James 
J. Callahan; at the left is " Big Ed " Walsh. The sign on the observa- 
tion car advertises the " cargo " and its destination. 

These specials were renowned not only for the luxuriousness of 
their fittings, but also for the sumptuous assortment of food and drink 
provided by the Old Roman. The dispatchers ran the trains on special 
schedules which permitted the travelers to " visit " on the way. 

Dig Spikes in Five Continents 225 

comes to needless exertion, be it in noise or by 
muscle, the follower of Confucius hires a sub- 
stitute. Perhaps the fact that the only game 
pulled off in the Flowery Kingdom was played in 
" Happy Valley," on the edge of a betombed 
hillside from which it gets its name, had some- 
thing to do with the subdued greetings from the 
pig-tailed spectators. 

Shanghai, which figured earlier in the itinerary, 
undoubtedly would have made the boys feel at 
home had a game been possible. They had pre- 
pared for our coming for weeks and many had 
trained for the big event until it was hard to tell, 
when we arrived in a drizzle, whether they were 
wetter on the outside than inside. A couple of 
American warships were anchored in the river 
and it was easy to surmise that Jack Tar would 
not have permitted the staging of a funeral. 

Australia was genuinely cordial but not exu- 
berant. Cricket enthusiasm, the ne plus ultra 
in cheering, predominated despite the fact that 
New South Wales alone boasts of several base- 
ball leagues. In Ceylon, Hindu and Parsee, 
Mohammedan and Singhalese, gathered in large 
numbers to gaze and marvel. At Cairo the 
Bedouin removed himself to a safe distance, 
squatted on his haunches, entrusted his soul to 
Allah and silently awaited the finish. 

226 " Commy " 

What the descendants of the Caesars thought 
we never had an opportunity to find out as rain 
blotted out the games scheduled for the Eternal 
City. At Nice the Gaul contributed an abundance 
of " vivas," but the mercurial Parisian was given 
no chance to berate the umpire as it never stopped 
raining while we were there. 

How the English regarded the game we knew. 
Back in 1874, before the National League was 
organized, teams from Boston and Philadelphia 
had visited Great Britain. The cheering had been 
subdued and the enthusiasm was only slightly 
accentuated when Spalding's tourists invaded the 
island fifteen years later. The Prince of Wales, 
later Edward VII, lent social glamor to the sport 
in 1889. The accounts do not show that the prince 
was excessively demonstrative, even though inter- 
ested. Twenty-five years later his son, then the 
king and emperor, permitted the royal smile to 
grow into a laugh as he watched the antics of 
coachers and rooters. Thirty thousand British- 
ers laughed with him. George applauded and the 
cheers of Norman and Saxon circled the field. A 
thaw had set in after a quarter of a century. 

As has been pointed out, it had been no sudden 
decision on Comiskey's part to visit the farthest 
corners of the globe in order to have two repre- 
sentative baseball teams rub elbows with coolie 

Dig Spikes in Five Continents 227 

and king. Only the plan was matured during the 
season of 1913. ' ' Commy ' ' approached McGraw 
on the subject. The manager of the Giants was 
busy winning the bunting in the National League. 
Comiskey had high hopes of duplicating the per- 
formance in the American. Two pennant winners 
were bound to make a stir and so the agreement 
was made. Comiskey failed to land the flag. Had 
he won the White Sox would have gone intact. 
Only seven of those making the trip wore white 
stocking's the season following. Of these six were 
under Comiskey and one took orders from 
McGraw. James J. Callahan, manager ; Jim Scott, 
Joe Benz, Thomas D. Daly, Andrew Slight and 
George Weaver made up the bona fide members. 
Urban Faber had signed a contract with the Sox 
but was turned over to the Giants for the trip. 
The balance of * * Commy 's ' ' team was composed 
of Sam Crawford, Detroit Tigers; Steve Evans, 
St. Louis Cardinals; Tris Speaker, Boston Red 
Sox ; Richard J. Egan, Cincinnati Nationals ; Wal- 
ter F. Leverenz, St. Louis Browns; John J. A. 
Bliss, Pacific Coast League; Herman Schaefer, 
Washington Americans. 

Manager McGraw picked from his own team 
Larry Doyle, Bunny Hearne, George R. Wiltse, 
Fred Merkle and James Thorpe. From outside 
the home circle he, obtained Lee Magee and Ivy 

228 " Commy " 

Wingo of the St. Louis Cardinals; Hans Lobert 
and M. J. Doolan of the Philadelphia Nationals, 
and Urban Faber from the White Sox. Mike Don- 
lin, famous league star, forsook the footlights and 
joined McGraw's troupe. 

The National Commission assigned William J. 
Klem from the National League and John F. Sher- 
idan from the American as umpires. The games 
were played under Commission rules and the 
umpires had power to discipline the players as 
they saw fit. The arbitrators ruling with an iron 
hand, the playing rivalry was as bitter as during 
the regular season. 

Tris Speaker represented the sentiment of the 
players in this respect when, after a tough break 
for the Sox in the game at Hongkong, he gave 
voice to this protest : 

" This trip would have been a great success 
if we had only dropped the umpires overboard 
in the middle of the Pacific." 

The tour began Oct. 17, when the Sox left for 
Cincinnati to meet the Giants in the first game, 
which they lost 11 to 2. After the return engage- 
ment at Chicago the Sox were not again to inhale 
the ozone of the Great Lakes for 142 days. 

The two teams left home in the finest special 
train ever turned out. It consisted of six cars, 
a combination buffet, a diner, an observation car 

Dig Spikes in Five Continents 229 

and three sleepers. In this hotel on wheels they 
lived, with stationary intervals at Los Angeles 
and San Francisco, until they reached Seattle. 
During that time they zigzagged from Chicago to 
central Illinois, through Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, 
Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, California, 
Oregon and Washington. 

Thirty-one games were played between Cincin- 
nati and Puget Sound. Three days it rained. One 
game was a tie and the athletes pulled into Seattle 
with fifteen victories apiece. The players spent 
twenty-three successive nights on the sleepers. 
In between were wordy scraps on the field, ban- 
quets and receptions. Due to the intense rivalry 
one-half of the party hardly spoke to the other 
when the steamer Empress of Japan was boarded 
at Victoria, but the differences were wiped out in 
the common sufferings of the next seventeen days. 

In the number of people played to, the money 
taken in and the enthusiasm displayed no trip 
has ever equaled this world tour. Blue Rapids, 
Kansas, a speck on the prairies and not much 
more than that in the census register, turned over 
$2,800 as its contribution. The town claimed a 
population of 1,800. At San Francisco the fans 
overflowed from the stands into the field. At Med- 
ford, Oregon, the committee in charge insisted 
on paying $1,000, despite protests of McGraw and 

230 " Commy " 

Oallahan for the privilege of seeing teams play 
a few innings in pouring rain. 

At Dennison, Texas, where no game was sched- 
uled, members of the Elks' lodge with hundreds 
of other townspeople, staid up until midnight in 
order to shanghai the athletes. At Portland, Ore- 
gon, the Chamber of Commerce staged a gilded 
banquet and presented a silken American flag, 
which was carried around the world and now has 
a place of honor in the Woodland Bards' room at 
Comiskey Park. 

No one set of players could stand the strain 
on the trip overland and sustitutions were fre- 
quent. Christy Mathewson and Chief Myers 
served as a battery part of the time for the Giants. 
Walter Johnson, the great pitcher of the Wash- 
ington team, pitched for the White Sox at Tulsa, 
Oklahoma. The appearance of the American 
League speed king marked the one and only pitch- 
ing duel between him and Christy Mathewson. 
The result was a shutout of 6 to in favor of the 
Sox, Matty being in poor condition. 

On the Sox team at different times figured Hal 
Chase, Doc White, Frank Isbell, Ray Schalk, Mor- 
ris Bath, Lefty Russell, Walter Mattick and Joe 
Berger. Snodgrass, Tesreau and Fromme helped 
out the Giants. 

The strenuous program on land and the monot- 

Dig Spikes in Five Continents 231 

onous turn of the propeller at sea required varia- 
tions, as many of the players belonged to that 
species which hates daylight. Cards furnished 
the most acceptable amusement. Singing and 
reading made up a part. Dancing attracted many. 
Our national game of draw had the majority of 
devotees. John McGraw was captain of the whist 
crew, which on shipboard invariably included the 
commander of the vessel. Bill Klem, Fred Mer- 
kle, and Mike Donlin disturbed the serenity by 
their pinochle game. 

In one corner of the card room on ship were 
found the " seven up " fiends. Jim Mullin, Tom 
Lynch, Joe Farrell and Billy Buhl, all Chicago 
business men, were the regulars. A seat was 
always reserved for Comiskey, who, when well 
enough to " sit in," always won, but never col- 
lected, as at some time or other someone always 
started a riot claiming " low," and this invari- 
ably broke up the game. 

Comiskey 's specialties were " seven up " and 
' l hearts. ' ' He was equally keen on both. During 
the years he served as manager of the Cincinnati 
team he always spent his winters in Chicago. The 
gathering place for the " boys " was Mike's back 
room at Lytle and Twelfth streets. On one occa- 
sion the usual party, according to " Commy," 
had been engrossed in the game for hours before 

232 " Commy " 

one of the players remarked on the shaky condi- 
tion of the club room. 

" I think Mike believes that the load he is 
carrying is getting too heavy and he is fixing up 
the foundation," suggested " Commy," as the 
regular battle for the possession of the two spot 
was on. 

The jolting and groaning increased until a sud- 
den lurch landed chairs, tables and players in 
a corner of the room. Getting to their feet they 
obtained the first glimpse of the landscape since 
they had sat down. The back fence had disap- 
peared and instead there was an unobstructed 
vista of the street. Mike was moving to new quar- 
ters, but, as they were regular customers he didn't 
want to disturb them although, from force of cir- 
cumstances, the service during the trip had been 
somewhat irregular. The game was finished on 
a new foundation. 

Comiskey was a natural card player. Beside? 
having that unique gift of " card sense " his 
marvelous memory stood him in good stead. 
Except in his younger days he never played poker, 
or any other gambling game. He never has spec- 
ulated, as he always insisted in having the goods 
in plain view. 

As the draft of both ball players and camp 
followers for the world tour had been selective. 

Dig Spikes in Five Continents 233 

each was expected to render some particular serv- 
ice, either on the ball field or in the reception 
room. The heavy parts were assigned to Weaver, 
Scott, Benz, Slight, Evans, Merkle and Schaefer 
as singers. Evans and Schaefer also doubled in 
comedy. Joe Farrell, plain tourist, was director 
of * ' stunts. ' ' Norris L. 'Neill and Harry L. 
Sparrow paid the bills, while Comiskey, Callahan 
and McGraw absorbed the kicks. After each close 
game Bill Klem and John F. Sheridan, as umpires, 
played the role of outcasts. Before each contest 
Klem was usually introduced as the world's great- 
est announcer. 

To Jim Thorpe and his girl bride belonged the 
distinction of being the only real " native ' 
Americans in the party, an honor reflecting glory 
on the tribe of Sacs and Foxes. Jap, Australian, 
Hindu and Roman looked admiringly on the Indian 
Apollo, the world's greatest individual athlete, 
and one of the few who, on a certain occasion, 
refused the invitation to chat with a king. 

Others had specialties which they exhibited as 
occasion offered, but those mentioned made the 
big ' * noise. ' ' To the writer was assigned the task 
of being the Boswell to the party and to serve as 
foil to inquisitive foreign journalists. The events 
here recorded, even though incomplete, have at 
least the merit of being personal observations. 

234 " Commy " 

It was such a versatile bunch that boarded the 
Empress of Japan, of the Canadian Pacific Steam- 
ship line, at Victoria, B. C., on the evening of 
Nov. 19, after a hurried trip from Seattle on a 
coastwise steamer. Many were left at the dock 
who wanted to go. A few were missing who had 
been expected to accompany the party. Napoleon 
Lajoie, one of the greatest second basemen and 
batters that ever graced the game, had been orig- 
inally slated to round out the Sox infield. Calla- 
han approached him on the subject during the 

" Clear around the world, did you say? ' 
queried Nap. 

" Sure. And you will be back in time for the 
regular season," added Callahan by way of a 
convincing argument. 

" Fine! I am with you, but I suppose it will 
all be by land," cautiously inquired the Cleve- 
land star. 

Callahan, knowing Lajoie's aversion to the 
vasty deep, explained that the bridge builders 
had been slow in linking up the continents, but the 
water trips would only be a hop, skip and jump. 

" Too damp a prospect," was Lajoie's laconic 

As the Cleveland manager would not even 
accompany his team on the boat between Cleve- 

Dig Spikes in Five Continents 235 

land and Detroit during the playing season his 
aversion to the deep might be appreciated. He 
must have chuckled at the narrow escape while 
reading how the Sox and Giants were bounced 
from wave to wave for seventeen consecutive 

President Comiskey, who had started touring 
back in the Eighties, dodged the banquet trail 
across the continent, and joined the teams in 
San Francisco. With him was Mrs. Comiskey. 
Lou Comiskey and his wife made a third bridal 
pair in the party. Although not in the best of 
health Mrs. C. A. Comiskey proved to be a good 
sailor. As a mascot she upheld her reputation 
as the White Sox did better than winning the 
11 odd " in the final reckoning. 

Anticipating the constitutional amendment on 
sex equality and in honor of the " ladies' day," 
which had been inaugurated at the White Sox 
Ball Park, nearly as many women as men were 
included in the strictly tourist party. Of the 
" baseball wives" there were Mrs. C. A. Comis- 
key, Mrs. Lou Comiskey, Mrs. J. J. Callahan 
and her mother, Mrs. D. Hardin, Mrs. John 
McGraw, Mrs. James Thorpe, Mrs. H. Lobert, 
Mrs. Samuel Crawford, Mrs. L. Doyle, Mrs. 
George Wiltse and Mrs. W. J. Klem. 

The rest of the roll call included Mrs. H. E. 

236 " Commy " 

Keough, Miss Margaret Callahan, Mrs. N. S. 
McLean, Mr. and Mrs. James R. McAleer, Mr. 
and Mrs. James J. Mullin, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph 
C. Farrell, Mr. and Mrs. William C. Buhl, N. E. 
McBride, Master Daniel Callahan, Ted Sullivan, 
A. P. Anderson, Norris L. O'Neill, Thomas E. 
Lynch, William Ryan, Frank T. Farrell, Harry 
L. Sparrow, G. W. Axelson, James Hill, Albert 
Kenney, Frank McGlynn, Victor Miller, Dr. 
Frank Finley and Father McNamara. 

After the strenuous transcontinental trip the 
majority of the tourists were ready for a night's 
rest after having boarded the " Empress." The 
berths furnished the opportunity, but that was 
all. Within twelve hours Father Neptune had 
laid low four-fifths of the party. Joe Farrell 
went along to furnish cheer and anecdotes to the 
travelers. On the third day he dragged himself 
to the wireless and sent to Chicago this mes- 
sage: " All well except the passengers." He 
did not exaggerate. 

On the seventh day out I lost touch with land, 
the last wireless message sent my newspaper 
in Chicago having been forwarded from a dis- 
tance of 1,800 miles. Then for almost eight days 
we were " lost." Few cared, as it was blowing 
between " 11 and 12 " most of the time. 

In copying the log from Captain Dixon-Hop- 

Dig Spikes in Five Continents 237 

croft's records I innocently inquired what would 
have happened had it blown " No. 13." The* 
man who slept neither night or day, trying to 
keep the ship afloat, wearily glanced in my direc- 
tion, but that was all. 

I related the incident to the first mate. He 
also assumed a pained look but consented to 
explain to a land lubber that 12 was the last 
number in reckoning the velocity of wind, calm 
being zero. 

Such unseemly behavior on the part of a 
" peaceful ocean," although it floored most of 
the athletes, did not entirely blot out the social 
functions in the smoking room. While the table- 
ware in the dining saloon was "racked " and the 
chairs lassoed, there were always enough on hand 
to enjoy the scenery and shuffle the cards. 

Herman Schaefer, who shared with Nick Alt- 
rock, up to the time he died last year, the honor 
of comedian in chief of the ball field, was a steady 
contributor to the game of draw. " The Dutch- 
man," as he was best known to his friends, had 
many peculiarities on and off the playing field. 
In the indoor game he developed a violent antip- 
athy against anyone who stayed on " shorts." It- 
happened that Herman, who opened the pot with 
a pair of aces and finished with " ups " was 
beaten by Umpire Sheridan, who had drawn three 

238 " Commy " 

cards to a pair of fives. Schaefer tossed the deck 
out of the window and left the table in high 
dudgeon, vowing that he never would make good 
his end of the pot, which amounted to $6. The 
card room saw him no more that day, but he 
dropped in on the boys the following morning. 
Dumping a hat full of coppers in front of Sher- 
idan he remarked: " Here's what I owe you." 

The collection included everything in base metal 
that went for currency the world around, and it 
amounted to just $6, based on international 
exchange as expressed in weight. Schaefer had 
spent the better part of the day in collecting the 
junk from white, black, Chink and Malay, and it 
cost him twice as much as he originally owed 

There was considerable rivalry between Evans 
and Schaefer. Steve was a born imitator and a 
wit of the first order. Returning to New York 
after the trip he described to Jim Gilmore and 
John B. Ward of the Federal League how he felt 
when he first wore a silk hat on the trip. The 
story made such a hit that the Brooklyn owner 
signed him for twice as much as he could get from 
the National League. On the ship from Free- 
mantle to Suez he masqueraded as an English- 
man and got away with it. In order to catch up 
Schaefer, on his arrival at Nice, signed himself 

Dig Spikes in Five Continents 239 

on the hotel register as ' * Prince Henry. ' ' Every 
bellboy in the place was at his beck and call, much 
to the discomfiture of the rest of the guests. 

Larry Doyle, one of the bridegrooms of the 
party, was the chief practical joker. Larry was 
responsible for the story of the two sets of 
" fours." He detailed it around the world and 
dwelt pathetically on the tragedy of the possessor 
of two pairs of threes, who swallowed a six-inch 
perfecto, ashes aand all, when, after a long siege, 
he was given the privilege of gazing on four fives 
in the hands of John Sheridan. The possessor of 
the losing hand denies the yarn, as he did not 
smoke during that particular period of the jour- 

Occasionally the staid members of the party 
joined in the fun. James Mullin and Thomas 
Lynch, substantial men of business, figured in one 
episode. With most everybody being " in " on 
it except Ted Sullivan, the man who brought out 
Comiskey, a game with loaded dice was arranged 
between Mullin and Lynch. When the game was 
over Lynch was ' * strapped. ' ' Ted was told about 
it and went to " Commy." The latter knew noth- 
ing about it, but scented a " frame-up," and told 
Sullivan that the Captain should be informed. 

The skipper listened to the sad tale and ordered 
Mullin to the brig. Comiskey refused to inter- 

240 " Commy " 

fere and it took all of Sullivan's persuasive pow- 
ers to get the captain to relent. 

Umpire Klem was another victim. Just out 
of Manila there had been much conversation on 
what would happen when the ship should cross 
the " line." Steve Evans publicly announced 
an interview with the captain to the effect that the 
speed of the ship would be increased as soon as it 
had gone over the top at the equator as it would 
be downhill the rest of the way unless the vessel 
should be snagged by the * * line ' ' on the equator. 

At the appointed time Steve rushed into the 
smoking room and proclaimed that the ship had 
practically stopped as it had been unable to hurdle 
the line, which was now dragging on both sides. 
Everybody rushed to the side of the vessel. Evans 
insisted that Klem hung over the rail for two 
hours looking for the equatorial tow. 

Klem evened up on the way north. At the com- 
ing on board of King Neptune, arrayed in all his 
royal finery of sea weeds and burlap, some of the 
umpire 's tormentors got the ducking of their lives, 
much to the amusement of Miss Margaret Calla- 
han and Master Daniel Callahan, children of the 
manager of the Sox and official mascots. 

Comiskey himself could not always join in 
the festivities, as acute stomach troubles [not sea 
sickness] robbed him of much of the pleasure on 

WITH the departure of the White Sox and Giants on the world 
tour, the well-wishes of the country went with them. Cartoonist 
Briggs has caught the spirit of the leave-taking Uncle Sam at the 
end of the pier gazing sort o' lonesome-like at the fading ship which 
was to carry the tourists on the longest trip ever taken by a ball team. 

Dig Spikes in Five Continents 241 

the trip. He showed gameness to the core, how- 
ever, by seldom missing a reception on land when 
etiquette demanded his presence. He refused to 
be floored until a world famous specialist at Rome 
ordered him to bed. Whether, when he arrived 
off Sandy Hook, he had the stormy days of the 
Pacific in mind or the heroic doses of bismuth 
administered at Borne, was not clear, but it must 
have been one or the other, as each furnished an 
impelling argument against leaving home. 

Here and there a light could be discerned in the 
distance through the snowy haze when John 
McGraw sought out Comiskey. 

" I want you to get up early in the morning," 
suggested McGraw. * ' I 'd like to have you see the 
Statue of Liberty. ' ' 

" Think I will, John," answered the " Old 
Eoman," " for if she looks me in the face again 
she will have to turn around." 



Governor General of Australia taught a new 
" curve" Sir Thomas Lipton and Schaefer are 
chummy Pilgrims meet the Pope Find a base- 
ball fan in the Vatican Nine balls and three 
strikeouts A rookie wins an eleven inning thriller 
before a king A new toast. 

The tour headed by " Commy " offered a les- 
son in preparedness. It was like traveling by 
megaphone on a rubber-neck wagon. All knew 
where they were going and what was expected of 
them when they got there. Social usages could 
thus be adhered to and the members would leave 
the impression that they had been born equally 
to the purple and the homespun. 

If conviviality was on the cards, good fellow- 
ship would be on tap without stint ; if dignity bet- 
ter comported to the surroundings, no one was 
apprehensive of " breaks/' Each member had 
been trained to his individual dress suit and top 
hat. Occasionally a brain storm produced variety. 

Nearing Japan one of the athletes came into 
the dining room, direct from the sick ward, 


Baseball Thrills for a King 243 

arrayed in a swallow tail coat with all the trim- 
mings down to the patent leather pumps but with 
white stockings, embroidered on the instep with 
a flaming monogram in blue. 

On another occasion, in crossing the Mediter- 
ranian, a pilgrim threw the German head steward 
into spasms by appearing in " evening " dress 
consisting of a claw-hammer coat, black vest, neg- 
lige shirt, four-in-hand red necktie, white trous- 
ers and slippers. 

" Why did you do it? " asked an embarrassed 
fellow traveler. 

" To prove that it could be done," was the 
noncommittal answer. 

As a matter of fact back of it was a con- 
spiracy to make the custom of the English, in 
dressing for dinner, look ridiculous. Adjusting 
shirt . studs took too much time away from the 

On land it behooved the visitors to be on their 
guard when out of their baseball uniforms, as 
there was hardly a mile covered where they were 
not officially chaperoned. Arriving at quarantine 
at Yokohama the party was met by the personal 
representatives of the mayor and the Japanese 
and American governments. They were consid- 
ered guests of the nation until they departed from 

244 " Commy " 

At Hongkong not only did the English governor 
turn over " Happy Valley," which was govern- 
ment property and incidentally the only level 
piece of ground on the island, for the game, but 
the port authorities permitted the tourists to 
leave the Empress of Japan and board the St. 
Albans, after the former had sailed into the har- 
bor with the yellow flag at its mast head. At 
Manila Governor Harrison and Generals Frank- 
lin J. Bell and H. P. McCain saw to it that noth- 
ing was left undone for the visitors' comfort. 

Beginning at Thursday Island, the northermost 
landing place in Australia for ships taking the 
route inside the great Barrier Beef, official and 
private hospitality never missed a cog. At every 
stop, city, state and commonwealth dignitaries 
vied with each other in making the stay pleasant. 
As games were played in the afternoons, recep- 
tions were confined to mornings while banquets 
held sway in the evenings, usually followed by 
theatre parties. The fact that champagne and 
cakes were served at the official receptions in the 
city halls at Sydney and Melbourne immediately 
after the " ham and " made a considerable 

Speeches were the order everywhere. For the 
tourists several members were adepts at the act. 
The heavy work devolved on Callahan, McGraw 

Baseball Thrills for a King 245 

and Ted Sullivan. As Callahan, in " Gentleman 
Jim," had capitalized his story telling ability on 
the stage and as Sullivan had followed the pro- 
fession of lecturer, many a host was given the 
impression that we carried professional speech- 
makers with us. McGraw was equally at home on 
the platform and the party scored a perfect 
average in this line. Comiskey, who had an aver- 
sion to appearing in public, did not always escape. 
What he had to say was usually taken down 

In Melbourne Lord Denham, the governor gen- 
eral and all-around good sportsman, entertained 
the entire party, assisted by Lady Denham. Then 
to show how Great Britain's representative in 
the antipodes appreciated the visit he pitched the 
first ball in the initial contest on the Melbourne 
Cricket Club's grounds. He became enthusiastic 
and inquisitive about the game and insisted on 
learning all about the mysteries of pitching, he 
himself being a star cricket player. 

At Colombo, Ceylon, Sir Thomas J. Lipton 
anticipated all others by sending a radio message 
as soon as contact could be had with the steam- 
ship Orontes, asking the party to be his guests 
while on the island. He proved a capital host 
and an unaffected and democratic good fellow. 

Passing through the dining room of the Sox- 

246 " Commy " 

Giants ' hotel at dinner, the millionaire sportsman 
espied Herman Schaefer, with others, at a table. 

" Is everything all right," queried Sir Thomas. 

" Tom, I never enjoyed myself more in my life," 
ejaculated the " prince," to the horror of high- 
born Britons in the room. 

" Herman, you are on for an automobile ride 
after dinner, you know," was the ready response 
of the knighted tea merchant, and everybody 

Sir Thomas stuck to the finish. He went out 
with the final boat load at midnight and the last 
glimpse his guests had of the jolly Irishman they 
saw him standing in a rowboat waving his hat and 
trying to compete with the hoarse toots of the 
siren as the Orontes picked its way out of the 

Not much had been expected in Egypt and it 
occasioned surprise when the khedive, Abbas 
Hilmi II, appeared at the first game, played on 
the grounds at Heliopolis. Abbas Hilmi laid aside 
his royal reserve for the time being and talked 
baseball. That someone had posted him in 
advance was evident. Before he left, which was 
in the seventh inning, he thanked Comiskey for 
his visit and hoped that he could " come again." 
If such should be the case Abbas probably would 
not be among those present. A few months later 

Baseball Thrills for a King 247 

he fell on evil ways and picked the wrong side in 
the great war. 

Lord Kitchener, the Earl of Khartoum, who 
was virtual viceroy of Egypt, was expected to 
see the Sox and Giants in action, but at the last 
minute, was compelled to send his regrets. 

Many of the tourists being of the Catholic faith 
it was but natural that the papal reception at 
Rome should make a deep impression. The meet- 
ing with Pope Pius IX was simplicity itself. After 
a talk by Mngr. Kennedy of the American College 
at Rome, the pilgrims were introduced and their 
mission explained. The Holy Father listened 
intently and the ceremony was concluded by the 
blessing of the visitors. 

The democratic ways of the papal secretary, 
Cardinal Merry del Val, made a hit with every- 
body. Here in the Vatican itself the members 
of the party found a high dignitary of the church 
able to converse with them not only in their own 
tongue, but in the language of the diamond as 
well. As proof of his intimate knowledge of the 
^ame was a picture hanging on the wall in the 
cardinal's apartments, showing him in baseball 

" Yes, I thought I could play the game pretty 
well once," said the cardinal. " I considered 
myself useful in the infield on the college team 

248 " Commy " 

at Baltimore, and I suppose the manager agreed 
for he kept me in the lineup quite a while." 

Prior to the visit to Borne Comiskey had been 
presented with a bronze statue of the Discus 
Thrower, in Naples. This followed after a dele- 
gation of sporting clubs had met the party at the 
docks. The presentation speech was made by 
Hall Caine, the English novelist, who was in 
Naples at the time. On landing the party had 
been met by Dr. John Edward Jones, United 
States consul general at Genoa, who stayed with 
the bunch until the French border was reached. 

At Nice the players added to the gayety of the 
world-famous carnival, which w T as at its height 
when they arrived. They were given a promin- 
ent place in the parade and were almost buried 
under a shower of confetti. 

Although no game could be played in Paris the 
social conquest continued, a reception by Ambas- 
sador Myron T. Herrick featuring the entertain- 
ment. A banquet was tendered by Julius Kessler, 
an American citizen residing in Paris. 

In London reception followed reception, the 
official luncheon at the Savoy Hotel rounding out 
the day and night entertainments. At this ornate 
affair official circles were represented by Lord 
Desborough and' Lord Lonsdale while Consul 
General Griffith responded for the United States. 

Baseball Thrills for a King 249 

Although personal gratification played a part 
in the world tour, Comiskey insisted from the 
beginning that the game would have to be the 
thing. The trip, in his estimation, should accom- 
plish two objects. In addition to introducing our 
national sport into foreign lands the members 
would also carry a message of international con- 
cord. In this respect, were he inclined to stretch 
a point, President Comiskey might look back with 
pardonable pride to the coincidence that, of the 
ten political entities visited, all were found on the 
side of the Allies when the great test came. 

Of advantage to the travelers, as well as lending 
prestige to their comings and goings, was the aid 
extended by the Washington administration. At 
the direction of President Wilson, Secretary of 
State William Jennings Bryan had, weeks in 
advance, notified diplomatic and consular offices 
in every city to be visited, to extend all the help 
and courtesies possible. 

Instructions of the promoters, issued at the 
start, included a fiat against hippodroming on the 
ball field. This was faithfully followed out but 
the Keio University baseball team came to the 
conclusion in the first international clash that the 
dictum was not observed. The Sox had whipped 
the Giants in the initial set-to on foreign soil before 
as big a mob as had ever seen a game in Tokio. 

250 " Commy " 

Then it came the turn of the university team, the 
best in Nippon, to defend the honors of the Mika- 
do's realm. 

Jim Scott, the man with the " round-house " 
curve, was given the job of pitching for the 
amalgamated team against the Japs. Scott had 
been one of the sickest of the sick on the trans- 
Pacific trip and it took several innings before 
he could find his land legs. Consequently after 
a strikeout Center Fielder Morri smote him for 
a triple and Nyaka's single made run No. 1 for 
Keio. Getting the first tally in the game against 
what was regarded as the champion combination 
of the universe so worked on the nerves of the 
rooters that a madhouse would have furnished 
the scenario for a lullaby in comparison. The 
fact that the one run lead was wiped out in the 
Sox half made no difference. They had scored 
on a team which had come 7,000 miles to show 
them how to play the game. 

Eventually the Japs accumulated two more 
runs while the Sox-Giants ran up sixteen. That 
was deemed a fair ratio but the sting came in 
the final inning, with Keio at bat. Scott, hav- 
ing settled down, was in his best form and, 
pitching just nine balls, struck out the side. 
Nothing could be plainer than that the visitors 
had been hippodroming in the other eight rounds. 

Baseball Thrills for a King 251 

Explanations having been made the entente cor- 
diale was restored. The short stay was tri' 
umphantly brought to a close when Fred Merkle, 
in the third and final game, put the ball over 
the left field fence, a feat that had been deemed 
impossible by every follower of the game in Tokio. 

It was also in that farewell performance that 
the natives saw a play which McGraw insisted 
was the greatest he himself had ever seen. It 
was a peg from deep center field which caught 
Mike Donlin coming in from third. Lobert had 
hit a regular skyscraper, and Tris Speaker, 
who had started to sprint with the crack of 
the bat, picked the ball off a Nipponese top-knot 
in the bleachers. Whirling without being set for 
the throw he shot the ball to Jack Bliss at the 
plate, who nailed the oncoming Mike by a step. 
The out came near ruining the trip for Donlin, 
who called on all the saints in the calendar to 
bear witness to the fact that the ball which 
killed him off was not the one which Lobert 
had hit. 

Before every contest a " shadow game," in 
which the players went through the motions 
without the aid of a ball, was staged. This made 
a big hit all the way from Chicago to London. 
The Japs saw it before the first game and became 
adepts at it before the second had been played. 

252 " Commy " 

It was the same with the Filipinos, but to the 
matter-of-fact subjects of King George it proved 
a puzzle to the end. At Brisbane two English- 
men stood watching the antics of the players. 
Both became deeply engrossed. 

11 What celerity," remarked one. 

" Bighto," interjected the other one. " I 
cawn't even see the ball, you know." 

The Japanese, true to their natural bent, 
insisted on getting the hang of every trick. The 
Filipinos proved as adaptive. Herman Schaefer 
had the knack of throwing the ball behind his 
back in any direction he desired. He gave an 
exhibition of his skill at Manila. The following 
forenoon the ball was similarly juggled on every 
lot in the city and there were plenty of prairie 
diamonds as, according to the chief of police, 200 
games were played each Sunday. 

Although there are some good Chinese ball 
teams in various parts of the world the natives 
stood in stolid silence and watched the perform- 
ance in " Happy Valley," Hongkong. The yells 
were furnished by thousands of sailors, repre- 
senting practically every navy on earth. In the 
forefront were American jackies, who had not 
seen a game for a year. 

Intermittent battles with the elements marked 
the tour. The teams were wafted out of Shang- 

Baseball Thrills for a King 253 

kai on a midwinter monsoon. The second game 
in Manila was played on a field that had been 
six inches under water twenty minutes before 
the game started. Drought prevailed in Aus- 
tralia. In Borne and Paris the downpour never 
let up and it was not dusty in London. 

The playing fields proved much better than had 
been expected. The cricket fields in Queensland, 
New South Wales and Victoria furnished car- 
peted playing surfaces. Other diamonds were 
mostly of the " skinned ' r variety. On all, the 
brand of ball was up to the standard. One of the 
marvelous exhibitions was the last contest at 
Manila, where an errorless seven-inning game 
had been played on a field which resembled a 

The first native team in Australia was encoun- 
tered at Sydney. It " borrowed " Wiltse and 
Wingo as a battery but lost 10 to 1 in a five- 
inning game. In a seven-inning contest the fol- 
lowing day a team composed entirely of home 
talent went down to a 15 to 2 defeat. The score 
of 18 to in favor of the Giants decorated 
the board at Melbourne. 

At Sydney the " Old Roman " tried his hand 
at cricket. An expert handed up the ball. 

" I should think I ought to be able to knock 
the ball out of the lot with a paddle like that," 

254 " Commy " 

remarked " Commy " as he took his place in 
front of the wicket. 

He did not " lose " the ball but retired with 
the laurels of having protected his wicket. 

A game had been scheduled at Freemantle, 
West Australia, but on arrival the tourists dis- 
covered that the local committee had forgotten 
to make arrangements for a playing field. A 
sight-seeing trip to Perth was taken instead, a 
place where Comiskey enjoyed the distinction of 
going broke. He had his letter of credit for 
$121,000 and a $20 gold piece when he arrived. 
When he tried to settle for dinner he proffered 
the double eagle. Nothing like it had ever been 
seen. He tried the bank. Being experts on the 
yellow metal in this part of the world, which 
produces a fair share of it, it was pronounced 
gold but not currency. The bank finally took a 
chance but nicked him $1.40 for the trouble. 

Leaving the lone continent behind on Jan. 14 
the next exhibition contest was put on at Co- 
lombo a week later, without price but with a 
lot of ceremony. The race track inclosure was 
used for playing field. The ground was rough 
and it rained part of the time. Sir Thomas Lip- 
ton and the American consul said they enjoyed 
it. The natives were non-committal. 

It was a lazy journey from the land of tea 

Baseball Thrills for a King 255 

and cinnamon into the Red sea, which despite its 
name didn't appear red after all to some of our 

After having had a distant glimpse of the town 
of Aden, the fourth continent in the itinerary, 
brown and treeless, burst upon the view during 
the latter part of January. 

The prospect of playing before the Sphinx 
impressed the globe trotters more than did the 
privilege of pulling off a game before the khedive. 
The morning after the pilgrims had landed at 
Suez they stood before the mutilated but majes- 
tic figure of the desert enigma. 

" Whoever said we could stage a game here 
must have been in league with the picture card 
trust," said Comiskey as he surveyed the 30 by 
40 playing field in front of the inscrutible one. 

" That's one of Stoney Face's riddles," sug- 
gested the scholarly Egan. 

" Kidding us, I should say," added McGraw 
as the moving picture brigade adjusted their 

11 Well, let us go through the motions and kid 
posterity," suggested Callahan, and through the 
motions they went to the accompaniments of 
clicking cameras and shouting donkey drivers. 
That was as much of a game as has ever been 
staged before the Sphinx. 

256 " Commy " 

Athletes and camp followers, having listened 
to the ravings of Arab sheiks, explored the 
pyramid of Giza to its innermost depths and 
regretted the venture. 

Bruised and weary the gazers on Egyptian an- 
tiquities moved to the other side of the Nile six 
miles beyond Cairo for two real ball games. The 
first one went to a 3 to 3 tie in ten innings. It again 
gave the lie to hippodroming as it was marked 
by much confusion of tongues, the exposing of 
family skeletons and a general truculency on 
part of the players, each side now trying to get 
the edge on games won. 

A few white folks having missed the first 
contest a second was staged the following day. 
The Giants won 6 to 3 and pulled off a triple 
play, the only one on the trip. Both games were 
played on the Heliopolis grounds, a level expanse 
of desert, the boundaries being marked by rows 
of stately palms with a background of botanical 
gardens, a handsome clubhouse and attractive 

Only two games followed the two days' jour- 
ney across the Mediterranean, which was made 
on the German steamer Prinz Heinrich. The 
short trip was marked by the absence of Umpire 
Sheridan and the appearance of a pilsener brew. 
Sheridan had missed the boat in the confusion 

Baseball Thrills for a King 257 

of embarkation at Alexandria and did not catch 
up with the party until London was reached. 
Those of Teuton extraction found some consola- 
tion in the amber fluid. 

With the game at Nice on Feb. 16, 1914, the 
Sox and Giants had dug their spikes into five 
continents. The lead remained with the former, 
as Comiskey's crew won the game 10 to 9. With 
the carnival program over and the drizzle of 
Paris only a memory London alone remained on 
the schedule. 

After jockeying with uncertain weather con- 
ditions it was finally decided to play Feb. 26. 
The Chelsea Football Field, within the Stamford 
Bridge grounds, which had been dedicated to 
the game by Spalding's pioneers, was selected 
as being the most suitable. Then loyal American 
enthusiasts, led by John Lambert, George Grant, 
now owner of the Boston Nationals, and others, 
started to get court circles interested. They had 
just twenty-four hours to do it in. As soon as 
apprised of the game the king assured Ambas- 
sador Page that he would be on hand. He was 
there at the appointed time with thirty thousand 
other Britons. 

As it happened his majesty saw the greatest 
thriller of the entire trip. Spectacular catches 
followed prodigous swats, a home-run drive by 

258 " Commy " 

Tom Daly winding up the sensational contest in 
the eleventh inning. It is a question as to what 
impressed the king the more, the riotous rooting 
of the Americans or the circus feats of the play- 
ers. For the former he made use of Ambassador 
Page as interpreter. He could make notes of 
the stunts without any special help. The one-hand 
catch by Magee of Speaker's terrific drive over 
the running track in left field needed no explana- 
tion. It was unnecessary to expound the beau- 
ties of Daly's eleventh inning drive or. to explain 
that it was the longest hit ever made within the 
historic grounds. 

The mighty wallop spelled finis for a remark- 
able baseball trip. It had been successful from 
every angle and Comiskey had the satisfaction 
of having piloted a team to victory during the 
trip that was now in possession, of the globe 
circling baseball title. " Commy 's " team ac- 
cumulated a total of 24 wins; McGraw's crowd 
drew 20. Fifty games had been played in all, 
those with native teams making up the difference. 

The winning hit in that closing contest was 
made off Urban Faber, who had been loaned to 
the Giants for the trip. No rookie had been put 
to a more severe test than was the youngster 
from Cascade, Iowa, Not only was it up to him 
to hold his own against Jim Scott and Joe Benz, 

Baseball Thrills for a King 259 

veteran slabsmen, but in addition, he was pitch- 
ing under the gaze of a monarch and a great crowd 
of diplomatic notables. 

Faber blamed himself for the defeat of his 
team but McGraw did not. When next the 
Giants and the Sox met, three and a half years 
later, it was Faber again who held the spotlight. 
By winning three out of six games from the 
Giants for the White Sox, he added another 
world's trophy to Comiskey's collection. 

No game was ever more hard-fought than the 
extra-inning tempest at London. Few had been 
as sensational. Seldom had the spectators been 
as numerous. The White Sox scored first two 
runs in the third inning on singles by Evans, 
Bliss and Weaver, and a base on balls to Scott. 
Lobert's home-run to center, back of an error 
by Schaefer on Magee 's grounder, made it a tie 
in the fourth. For the Giants, first to bat in the 
tenth, singles by Donlin and Magee, a sacrifice 
hit by Lobert and a fielder's choice and an out, 
brought two runs. 

It appeared as if Broadway would have the 
opportunity to celebrate, but Weaver, in the 
Sox half, started to even it up with a single. 
Egan went out on an infield tap. Speaker's 
drive had the earmarks of a home-run but Magee, 
sprinting as he had never done before, made a 

260 " Commy " 

leap in the air and speared the ball with one 
hand. Disgusted, Speaker yelled: 

" Yes, you lucky stiff. You tried that grand 
stand play eleven times on the trip without mak- 
ing it and now you pulled it off before a king." 

Sam Crawford caused the second tie of the 
game by sending the ball a trifle higher than had 
Tris. There was no need to reach for this. It 
never was found. 

The Giants were blanked in their half of the 
eleventh. Daly was the first up for the Sox. It 
was rookie against rookie and royalty looked 
on both. Faber tried to squeeze one by on the 
inside. He made a poor guess. Where the ball 
went no one cared. Donlin, in center field, took 
one look at and made a break for the shower. 
King and commoner arose, stretched and agreed 
that they had seen " some game." His Majesty 
told Ambassador Page that he had never enjoyed 
an afternoon more. This he repeated to Comis- 
key and McGraw through his chamberlain, who 
conveyed the appreciation of the king to the 
leaders of the tour at their hotel. Previously 
he had shaken hands with both in the royal box 
where he held a democratic pow-wow before the 

The scorer did not wish to entrust the box 
score to cricket-playing cable operators so the 

Baseball Thrills for a King 261 

complete statistics of the game are now given 
for the first time: 


Weaver, ss 







Egan, 3b 

.... 3 




Speaker, cf 

.... 5 


Crawford, rf 

.... 5 





Schaefer, 2b 

.... 4 




Daly, Ib 

.... 5 





Evans, If 

.... 4 





Bliss, c 

.... 2 






Scott, p 

.... 1 



Slight, c 

.... 2 





Benz, p 



Total , 

,... 38 




















Donlin, cf 

... 5 






Magee, If , 

.... 3 






Lobert, 3b , 

.... 4 







Doyle, 2b , 

.... 4 






Merkle, Ib , 

... 4 







Doolan, ss 

... 4 






Thorpe, rf , 

... 5 


Wingo, c 

.... 4 






Faber, p 

.... 5 


Total 38 4 8 12 3 3 *29 19 1 

*Evans hit by own batted ball in 5th; none out when 
winning run was scored. 

Score by innings: 

123456789 10 11 

White Sox 002000000215 

Giants 2 2 04 

Two base hit Donlin. Home runs Crawford, Daly, Lobert. 
Left on bases Chicago, 7; New York, 8. Hits Off Scott, 3 in 

262 " Commy " 

5 innings; off Benz, 5 in 6 innings. Struck out By Scott, 2; 
by Benz, 4; by Faber, 1. Bases on balls Off Scott, 1; off 
Benz, 2; off Faber, 2. Hit by pitcher Magee by Scott; Schae- 
fer by Faber. Wild pitch Scott. Double plays Lobert to 
Doyle to Merkle; Doyle to Doolan to Merkle. Time of game 
1:50. Attendance, 35,000. Umpires William Klem and John 
F. Sheridan. 

As the historic tour started so did it finish 
in a riot of banquets. The Lusitania was warped 
to its dock the morning of March 6. The even- 
ing of March 7, eight hundred fans, including 
many notables, crowded into the banquet hall 
of the new Biltmore Hotel to do honor to the 
returning wanderers. The "White Sox fans came 
to New York in a special train. On arrival they 
chartered a steamer for their own use, stayed up 
all night and met the ocean liner at dawn. 

Spurning sleep this heroic band of rooters, 
representative of every section in the middle 
west, took the Sox in tow on March 8, made a 
record run to Chicago, where they arrived the 
morning of the 9th, and went into training for 
the finishing touches of the tour. The Congress 
Hotel housed the last " party," where a thou- 
sand fans rose as one to the toast: 

" The White Sox! May they always win; but 
win or lose, the White Sox! " 



Comiskey starts roaming early Special trains 
become an institution First to train on foreign 
soil Annual fall hegiras to the northern woods 
begin Tale of the " blanks" and the stationary 
bird An Indian uprising near Springstead 
Muskie and the tenderfoot. 

Roaming always had a special attraction to 
Comiskey. It was this trait of his character which 
sent him around the world. Perhaps he acquired 
it looking for ball fields on the prairies around 
Chicago when the city was young. Pioneering 
became a habit with him and it was a dull year 
when he did not discover a virgin training camp 
or two or lay out a new route for an exhibition 

The Browns afforded him his first opportunity 
to see the country. After having won the world 's 
championship in 1886 he took the team to Cali- 
fornia. On the way out he played games with 
local teams. On the coast he met Anson's White 
Stockings and the Philadelphia Nationals. He 


264 " Commy " 

repeated the western trip in 1889, playing the New 
York Giants and other teams. 

His years in Cincinnati and the minor leagues 
kept him off the road until he finally settled in 
Chicago. In the beginning he adjusted his jour- 
neys to prospective receipts. He has yet to make 
a losing spring trip or exhibition jaunt. About 
ten years ago the Sox trained in Texas, coming 
north by easy stages. Another major league 
team, equally well advertised, covered practically 
the same territory. Comiskey was $6,000 ahead 
at the finish. The other combination lost $3,500. 

Practically every team that has invaded Cali- 
fornia lost money on the venture. Comiskey took 
his White Sox to the Golden State in 1908 for his 
first far west training trip. Everybody predicted 
that it would cost him a lot of money. 

' ' If it does, ' ' said Comiskey, ' * we will have a 
lot of fun spending it as we are going out in a 
train of our own.'* 

It was the first special that ever rolled into a 
training camp. Thereafter the Sox always 
traveled to the spring camps by special train 
until the war put a stop to the luxury. Inci- 
dentally the first California tour netted the Old 
Roman $7,000. The train cost him an equal sum. 
He took similar chances in 1909, 1910, 1913, 1914 
and 1915. 

Blazing New Trails 265 

" How do you do it? " asked a fellow owner. 

" It is all in knowing when to let go," was the 

Perhaps that was not the real reason, but the 
fact remains that Comiskey has visited more 
corners of the earth than any other magnate in 
the game. Outside of the world tour his most 
ambitious project was the spring training trip 
to the City of Mexico in 1907. He had gone to 
Marlin, Texas, in 1904, a journey of over 1,600 
miles, and experts of the game predicted that it 
would be a ' ' bloomer. ' ' As for Mexico, aside from 
the expenses and distance, the altitude over 
7,000 feet would be the finish of the Sox, it 
was argued. 

" Oh, never mind," parried the Old Eoman. 
" Altitude won't bother the Sox. They were 
above everybody else in baseball last year so they 
are used to it. ' ' 

The experiment proved a success artistically 
even if not financially, although the Mexicans took 
readily to the game. Vice-President Kaymon 
Corall, less apt to be made a target by disap- 
pointed patriots than Porfirio Diaz, set the pace 
for social and political amenities. The rest of the 
official family fell in line and in Mexico the grand 
stand became a center of society. 

As vociferous and insistent rooters the Mexicans 

266 " Commy " 

run a close second to the Japs. They will become 
even more personal in criticism than the Nip- 
ponese if the pitcher wobbles or the batter strikes 
out. Big Ed Walsh, perspiring and red-necked, 
labored hard to get a break to the ball in the 
rarified atmosphere. When " otro toro " swelled 
to a chorus in the bleachers he interpreted it as 
an encouragement to his efforts until a resident 
American sent word to Manager Jones that the 
native rooters insisted on a change in pitchers. 
They had voiced their demands for " another 
bull " in no mistaken accents and ever afterwards 
" otro toro " had an ominous sound to the Big 

Leaving the valley of the Aztecs the players 
were of the opinion that the two weeks under the 
" high sky " had been wasted. The pitchers had 
been unable to get a decent curve over the plate. 
The ball refused to " break " to the usual twist 
of the wrist and as for the fielders, they were help- 

Judging a ball in that atmosphere was mere 
guess work. Fielder Jones, one of the greatest 
outfielders in the business, missed the first high 
fly sent in his direction by fifty feet. Frank Isbell 
stood under a pop-up at third base and saw it 
drop ten feet away from him. 

" The ball weighs a ton when it comes down," 

Blazing New Trails 267 

complained Izzy after the game in the hearing of 

' ' Well, the one I saw come down at third base 
didn't make your fingers sore," cut in the " Old 
Eoman. ' ' 

But training on the roof of the continent had 
an unexpected sequel. On the return north, play- 
ing at sea level, the pitchers discovered that they 
could get a better break on the ball than they ever 
had before. To the batters the ' ' pill ' ' looked like 
a pumpkin and had the reaction lasted the Sox 
probably would have broken up the league race 
with their sticks instead of subsiding into " hit- 
less wonders." The explanation was that extra 
efforts of the pitchers and the keenness of the 
batters in trying to locate the ball in the Mexican 
altitudes contributed to increased efficiency when 
once they were back in natural surroundings. 

In 1911 the Sox put Mineral Wells, Texas, on 
the map. They have trained there ever since, 
with the exception of two years. 

For the season of 1917 Comiskey had picked the 
Isthmus of Panama as training grounds for his 
team. Lack of transportation, due to the war, put 
a stop to that. A South American tour still is on 
the program. " Commy " has expressed a wish to 
play at Capetown and Johannesburg. The latter 
place offered him $5,000 if he would include the 

268 " Coramy " 

African mining center in his world tour itinerary. 

Wherever the Sox go, a trainload of camp fol- 
lowers are certain to be on the trail. Many found 
it inconvenient to go in the spring. For these 
" Commy " instituted the annual fall hegiras to 
the northern woods. Prominent men in all walks 
of life and from different sections of the country 
have been guests of Comiskey at Springstead and 
Mercer, Wisconsin. The Jerome Hunting and 
Fishing Club on Trude Lake, has achieved a 
national distinction. 

The parties seldom have been below sixty in 
number. Some have been bigger. All have been 
lively. What the best hotels could offer in food 
and drink could be had at these Indian Summer 
camps. In addition the natives, white and red, 
have insisted on contributing everything that for- 
est and stream produced. 

Springstead was in the real forest primeval. 
The noise never disturbed the neighbors. At first 
there was only one a trapper three miles away. 
The distance to Fifield, the nearest railroad sta- 
tion, was thirty-five miles. It took a day to make 
the trip by wagon autos were unknown in Wis- 
consin woods in the days of 1903. A week was 
required to haul out the provisions and the party 
each fall was usually big enough to press into 
service every spare vehicle of the lumber town. 

Blazing New Trails 269 

Sham battles with Indians, salutes and a crav- 
ing for noise generally, required an extensive 
arsenal. An opportunity was offered those who 
boasted of their marksmanship. Ban Johnson was 
considered a crack shot. Spotting a bird along 
the roadside going in, Ban was given the try, but 
it was with some amazement that the travelers 
watched the grouse take wing after the report of 
the gun. Another was located and this also 
joined its mate. Others did likewise. 

At the next halting place Johnson, without say- 
ing a word, stuck a piece of paper on a tree and 
blazed away at a distance of fifty feet. He 
apparently had made a miss with both barrels 
and there was a laugh all around. 

Further on the guide discovered a grouse some 
distance in front of the first vehicle. Tom Loftus, 
who held the record as practical joker of the 
American League, was given the benefit of the first 

" Well, here is where I show up Ban," he said, 
as the report reverberated through the woods. 

The bird never moved. 

" Give it the other barrel, Tom," encouraged 
Johnson, who had rushed up. The second load of 
No. 7 made no more impression than the first and 
Loftus made a motion as if to club the bird into 
submission. On second thought he decided to 

270 " Commy " 

sneak up on it. Grabbing it in both hands he 
found it rooted to the spot, supported by stilts and 
tied with strings. 

" Well, anyway, Ban, I got you on the blanks," 
said Loftus as he disengaged the very dead bird. 

Springstead was only six miles from the Flam- 
beau Chippewa Indian reservation. One year 
every able-bodied member of the tribe had been 
engaged to give August Herrmann and other 
prominent politicians from Cincinnati a fitting 
welcome. It was to take place at night and besides 
the " reception," the program included a scare 
and a war dance. The chairman of the National 
Commission couldn't come, but the red fire had 
to be put to some use and the ammunition 

As luck would have it, there were several 
tenderfeet along who stood in need of a woodland 
initiation. Thus it happened that while a score 
or more were wrestling with busted flushes, high 
and low, and melded aces in the main cabin one 
night, a guide rushed in and announced that the 
Indians were coming. The lights went out in a 
twinkling while defensive plans were discussed in 
subdued tones in the darkness. Through the win- 
dows could be seen a distant shack already 
enveloped in a carmine fire while shots and yells 
rent the air. 

Blazing New Trails 271 

* * The cabin will be ablaze in a few minutes and 
we will burn like rats," suggested somebody from 
behind the stove. 

" Only thing left is to rush 'em," proposed 

" Don't let them get me, Commy," piped a 
voice from under the bed in the farthest corner 
of the room. 

" I'll die with you, Jack," encouraged the 
" Old Eoman " as he threw himself on top of the 
bed, almost knocking the wind out of the victim 

Had not someone laughed as a valiant " loop- 
hound " from Chicago hit his head on the wood 
box trying to make a " stage " fall, some of the 
city bred folks might have died of fright. 

The refugee under the bed got even the follow- 
ing day. 

While he was out in a boat with Tom Loftus 
an eighteen pound muskie was snagged by the 
Dubuque magnate. The excitement of the night 
before had so unnerved Jack that he was in no 
condition to gaze with serenity on the fish as the 
latter almost jarred the slats loose from the side 
of the boat. Grabbing a revolver from the kit 
he emptied the contents in the general direction 
of the muskie 's head, blew a hole in the bottom 
of the boat and almost drowned both. 

272 " Commy " 

Most of the tricks " Commy 's " guests played 
on each other were less risky but more pointed. 
Courts-martial were a favorite form of amuse- 
ment. These were conducted according to Hoyle, 
as there were always enough bona fide judges and 
lawyers in the party to assure even-handed jus- 
tice. Some of the greatest speeches it has been 
my privilege to listen to I have heard in the 
" shack " that the Woodland Bards sing about, 
and all because someone had failed to " follow 
suite," had eaten between meals, had snored or 
missed roll call at tea time. 

The possibilities of land and water having been 
exhausted at Springstead, Comiskey and his 
friends obtained control of the Jerome Hunting 
and Fishing Club, twelve miles from Mercer, in 
1907. Here the Woodland Bards organized, the 
qualification for membership consisting in at 
least one visit to the camp. For eleven years the 
club has been open summer and winter for the 
friends of the White Sox owner. The two weeks 
immediately following the close of each baseball 
season made the special event. 

At the last " roundup " the place consisted of 
600 acres of land, all enclosed with a sixteen foot 
woven wire fence. Being an ardent lover of ani- 
mals Comiskey started an out-door zoo, which at 
present consists of nearly 300 head of deer, a herd 

Blazing New Trails 273 

of elk, moose and buffalo. Monte, the antelope, 
and Minnie, the doe, became famous all through 
northern Wisconsin because of their tricks on 
unsuspecting guests. Wild fowls of many kinds 
were added and from the reserve stocks the zoos 
in Chicago and Cincinnati have profited, as has 
also the Wisconsin state game preserve. 

The greatest loss to Comiskey, who has footed 
the bills for practically all the animals, was the 
departure of " Big Bill," the moose. Bill was 
.captured in the Rainy Lake region while still 
wobbling. He was brought up on a bottle at Camp 
Jerome and in time grew up to become one of the 
most magnificent antlered specimens on the con- 
tinent. One night during a storm, a fallen tree 
leveled a section of the fence. Bill found the hole 
and struck out for the land of his nativity. Never 
deviating a hair's breadth he kept a straight line 
for his former home until laid low by a hunts- 
man's bullet, much to the grief of the Old Roman, 
who had offered a reward of $500 for his capture. 

When the big game season opened in the north 
Comiskey and his friends were waiting to get the 
first shot. A distribution of venison always fol- 
lowed the hunt. The jokes that Comiskey and 
Ban Johnson played on each other were legion. 
On one occasion both came near being made vic- 
tims by the manager of a lumber camp in the 

274 " Commy " 

Rainy Lake region. Awakened early one morning 
by the hired man the nimrods were told that a 
big buck was browsing in the tamarack swamp. 

" Coming, " answered both in unison, but 
Comiskey thought better of it, rolled over and 
went back to sleep. Johnson jumped into his 
hunting clothes, grabbed a rifle and, after crawling 
through the brush for a mile or so, spied a pair 
of magnificent antlers. 

11 You've got him," yelled the self-appointed 
guide with the report of the gun and, without 
giving Ban the benefit of a second look rushed 
him to the fallen monarch. 

" Grab the other end of the pole," suggested 
Ban's companion as the head of the American 
League was given his first opportunity to survey 
the nicely suspended carcas of a deer. 

Johnson had his suspicions, but kept his own 

Had Comiskey not taken to baseball he could 
have made a living as a cook. His skill in peel- 
ing potatoes, boning a bass and skinning an onion, 
is second to none. He takes the greatest pleasure 
in superintending cooking operations and, while 
others have their tussles with the muskie and 
bass, he labors over the stewpan and coffee pot 
in some clearing in the brush. Having always 
lived in the open he is at home in the woods. But 

Blazing New .Trails 275 

once he made a " break " which nearly cost him 
his life. 

Going down the Flambeau River in northern 
Wisconsin on a summer's day he decided to cool 
his bare feet in the running waters. He neglected 
to keep his underpinnings out of the sun after the 
operation and by night they had swelled to twice 
their natural size. It was impossible to continue 
the journey. In pitch darkness the guide found 
a settler's cabin about a mile from the river. 
Comiskey sat up all night with his feet in a tub 
of buttermilk, but he had waited too long. Blood 
poisoning set in and it took one of Chicago's 
greatest specialists to save his life. 

With the northern woods deep in snow and with 
rivers and lakes frozen up, Comiskey found an 
outlet for his restlessness at another point of the 

Fifteen years ago the much-photographed 
houseboat " White Sox " became a famous craft 
on the lower Mississippi and its tributaries. The 
White River of Arkansas saw it many times. It 
was constructed to accommodate about twenty-five 
persons. No one ever heard of an empty bunk on 
the good ship. The big idea had been originally 
to use the craft as a wild fowl supply boat for 
those who were compelled to remain at home. If 
the company was out of luck the southern markets 

276 " Commy " 

did a rushing business on the return north of the 

The hunting program was not elaborate. Having 
anchored the boat in some secluded nook along 
the river the hunters were told off, pits were dug, 
blinds erected and the slaughter was on. Once 
Joe Higgins, public printer of the city of Chicago 
and another guest sat in a pit all day waiting for 
geese. Decoys were scattered all about them. 
Soon they were surrounded with the cacklers, but 
in the bottom sat the two arguing over the elec- 
tion in the Nineteenth Ward. Spectators on the 
houseboat had noticed the flock through their 
glasses and Comiskey suggested that someone 
row over and help to collect the kill. The rowers 
frightened the geese and the noise of flapping 
wings disturbed the debate in the pit. The pair 
stuck their heads above the edge of the blind and 
let go all four barrels. Nothing came down, but 
both got a glimpse of the boat in the distance. 

" Suppose they are coming for us," suggested 
Higgins' partner. 

" No, I think not," remarked the printer. " I 
have an idea that Commy has sent someone to 
take away our guns." 

Comiskey 's real parties were staged at home in 
Chicago, usually within the " loop." There in 
some secluded side room would gather the choicest 

Blazing New Trails 277 

spirits of the city. Few had a chance to " buy ' 
while " Commy " was around. The sessions 
began during the forenoon and lasted until after 

As a storyteller the " Old Roman " has few 
peers. In these sessions day after day, night upon 
night, old battles of the diamond would be re- 
fought, exploits in the woods recounted and plans 
laid for the next venture. Any suggestion which 
promised a variation was eagerly taken up and 
thus, after an all night gathering, " Commy " and 
his pals were as likely as not to start on a thou- 
sand mile trip in the morning. 

Comiskey's abstemious habits in his youth stood 
him in good stead in those days. With the mem- 
bers of the winter club steadily shifting, hour by 
hour, the head of the table looked as fresh at the 
finish as at the start. The conversation was 
always clean. No one ever tried the experiment 
of a salacious story or an outburst of profanity 
a second time within hearing of Comiskey. 

One of " Commy 's "most famous" hang-outs " 
was the " J. V. B. Club " in the Fisher Building 
in Chicago. To this spot drifted the " Old 
Roman's " friends from all parts of the globe. 
The plans for some of the biggest campaigns in 
two baseball wars were perfected in the back room. 
It is doubtful if there ever was a prominent man 

278 " Commy " 

in baseball who, at one time or another did not 
" sit in " during the continuous sessions, which 
began in 1899 and lasted for full twenty years. 



From a former baseball enemy It goes double for 
two more A tribute from McGraw Al Reach 
remembers "Commy" as the "greatest" Lipton 
and the autographed ball Spink and Foley recall 
Comiskey 's early days "Never another like him," 
says Joe Cantillon. 

Barney Dreyfuss, owner of the Pittsburgh 
National League ball club, lost a fortune and his 
best players when the American League raided 
his team in 1901 and 1902. The aggressive tactics 
of Charles A. Comiskey were held largely respon- 
sible. Dreyfuss became a baseball enemy of the 
" Old Roman " yet the Pittsburgh magnate 
wrote this in 1919: 

Nothing could give me greater pleasure 
than the opportunity to express my apprecia- 
tion of Charles A. Comiskey both person- 
ally and as a baseball man. I have known 
him since 1885, when he managed and played 
first base for the famous St. Louis Browns, 
then owned by Chris von der Ahe. 


280 " Commy " 

Comiskey, or " Commy," as he is more 
affectionately known by every one, was a 
great ball player, a great manager and to- 
day he is a great man in baseball affairs, but 
above all those things he is greater still as a 
man of high character. 

I am glad that I have had the pleasure of 
being closely acquainted with Mr. Comiskey 
during my thirty or more years in baseball. 
There is no other baseball friendship I have 
made in all that time that I cherish more 
highly than the friendship of Charles A. 
Comiskey. May he live long and prosper. 

Charles H. Ebbets, president of the Brooklyn 
Club, also of the opposition, saw his greatest 
player, Fielder Jones, jump to the White Sox 
but even after that grievous blow he could express 
these sentiments: 

It has been my pleasure to claim the friend- 
ship of Charles Comiskey for a period of 35 
years, our acquaintance having been formed 
in 1884, the second year of my connection 
with the Brooklyn Club. That friendship has 
firmly continued, despite some baseball dif- 
ferences, from that day to this. I think 
" Commy " has never, during the past 35 

From " Commy's " Friends 2*1 

years, had a peer as a quick thinker, batter, 
fielder, base runner and playing manager. 

I well remember " Commy " in the 
Eighties, when, with a practically invincible 
team, he used to beat Brooklyn game after 
game. On a particular occasion which I have 
in mind he came to Brooklyn and gave us a 
" show " by switching his team around. Six- 
foot " Commy " went to second base and 
five-foot-seven Robinson to first. Latham 
changed places with Catcher Bushong, put- 
ting on the wind pad and mask, Bushong 
attempting to play third base. " Commy " 
assigned Hudson, his third string pitcher, to 
officiate in the box. All we got was a 
11 show." Needless to say St. Louis beat 
Brooklyn just the same but I thought it was 
kind of " Commy " to give us a chance. 

Later on he favored Brooklyn by selling us 
the releases of Pitcher Caruthers for $7,500; 
Pitcher and First Baseman Foutz for $5,500, 
and Catcher Bushong for $4,500. It was the 
sensational deal of that period. I wish long 
life and prosperity to " Commy." He 
deserves all that he has and more, too. 

August Herrmann, president of the Cincinnati 
Ball Club, a power in the National League, afttr 

282 " Commy " 

sixteen years of intimate relations with Comis- 
key, writes : 

Charles A. Comiskey's performances as a 
player, record as a manager, achievements as 
a club executive and unblemished reputation 
as a sportsman, have justly earned for him 
merited pre-eminence in the annals of the 
game to which he has devoted his life. 

Not content with his unequaled contribu- 
tions to its progress and popularity in the 
United States, the " Old Roman ' r has 
exploited our National Game in foreign 
countries and he will continue his splendid 
services until called out by the Great Umpire. 

To have known and to have been associ- 
ated with him is a source of pride and satis- 
faction to all connected with the game. 

Few have had a better opportunity to size up 
Comiskey than John J. McGraw, now manager 
and vice president of the New York Giants. As 
a member of the Baltimore Orioles in 1891 
McGraw encountered Comiskey in the American 
Association and in the three years following he 
bumped up against him while " Commy " was 
with the Cincinnati team. For four months the 
two were together in their trip around the world. 
In 1917 they clashed in a world's series. After 

From " Commy's " Friends 283 

an acquaintance extending over a period of 
twenty-eight years McGraw has formed this esti- 
mate of the * * Old Roman ' ' : 

After our trip around the world the con- 
viction was forced upon me that there was 
only one Comiskey. I already knew that on 
the ball field he had been in a class by himself, 
but I did not know him as a man until I had 
rubbed elbows with him for four months, 
under all kinds of trying conditions. Despite 
the fact that he was suffering from bodily 
ills during practically the entire trip, I never 
heard him complain, and his cheerful dispo- 
sition helped to keep the rest of us on an 
even keel. 

In my business dealings with him he was 
more than fair. Liberality marked his every 
move. Although thousands of dollars were 
involved we never had the slightest differ- 
ence. All he insisted on was that each team 
should play to win and, as he said at the 
finish, he had no cause to be disappointed on 
that score. 

Comiskey was famous when I first started 
in. He had won four championships for the 
St. Louis Browns, so naturally he was a hero 
to me from the minute I first saw him. I 

284 " Commy " 

admire him to-day much more than I did then 
for I knew him only as a player in my 
younger days. Now I know him as a man. 

It is no disparagement to others to say 
that some of the greatest players in the game 
copied " Commy 's " style of playing. He 
taught the first baseman how to play the 
position. He furnished the rest of the 
infielders with new strategy. He gave you 
the impression, wherever you happened to 
meet him, that he was always thinking. 
There was hardly a game in which he didn't 
spring something new. He fought for every 
point to the last ditch and, in common with 
many others of his time, seldom ran across 
an umpire with good eyesight. No one, how- 
ever, could say that he did not battle fairly. 

Comiskey had his critics but few realized 
that he was usually two jumps ahead of 
everybody else. That earned him a reputa- 
tion for crabbedness on the field when, as a 
matter of fact, he was exactly the opposite. 
He never spilled a lot of words just to hear 
himself talk. There was no one more eco- 
nomical with language than Comiskey but 
when keyed up every word carried a barb. 
Years have not dulled his faculty in this 
respect. I know of no man who can get at 

From " Commy's " Friends 285 

the meat of an argument more quickly than 
the owner of the White Sox. It is for that 
reason that others listen to him, whether they 
are partners or rivals. 

In his dealing with players ana owners he 
has played the game on the square and in the 
open. He has done the same with the fans 
and that accounts for his hold on the fol- 
lowers of the game. Baseball will thrive 
after he is gone but there can never be 
another Comiskey. 

Hugh Jennings, an ex-teammate of McGraw's, 
has also had a chance to observe him. He writes : 

'Comiskey played his last season in Cincinr 
nati my first year in the major league. I did 
not have much of an opportunity to observe 
his good qualities as a player or manager. 
I have known him since coming to the Amer- 
ican League in 1907. He has always been 
most generous to the press and public and his 
executive ability, coupled with his faculty of 
making friends, has been of inestimable bene- 
fit to the American League, particularly in 
the City of Chicago. 

John M. Ward, who organized the Brotherhood 
revolt, and was one of the game's great players, 

286 " Commy " 

places Comiskey among the * * outstanding figures 
in baseball." Ward is now a successful attorney 
4n New York but be has not forgotten the old 
days, of which he penned the following: 

" Commy " is one of the outstanding fig- 
ures in baseball. As a manager he ranks with 
Ned Hanlon, Connie Mack, John McGraw, 
Wilbert Robinson and other great player- 
managers. He helped to systematize the 
play. As a first baseman he developed the 
possibilities of his position. He was the first 
man to cut loose from the bag and play deep, 
leaving the pitcher to cover the bag on hits 
that before his time used to go safely through 
to right field. 

As a man he 7 was always a generous oppo- 
nent and a most lovable character. I have 
seen little of him in recent years but have 
been glad to read of his success as the presi- 
dent and owner of the White Sox. We have 
had many hard battles against one another 
but he was such a fair fighter in the old days 
that I have never lost my regard for him and 
shall always wish him the greatest possible 
measure of success. 

Money is of small moment to Comiskey, accord- 
ing to Frank J Navin, president and owner of 

From " Commy's " Friends 287 

the Detroit Tigers. What Mr. Navin thinks of 
his fellow magnate follows : 

" Commy " is a true sportsman. He is in 
baseball because he loves the game and for 
no other consideration. He has plenty of 
the world's goods, but I feel sure nothing 
could induce him to dispose of the White 
Sox. Money to him is only the means of 
accomplishing a noteworthy achievement. 
He would sooner be the owner of the world's 
best baseball club than the biggest financial 
giant in Wall street. The sportsmanship of 
the man and the deep study he has given his 
favorite pastime have been great factors in 
his success. Baseball owes a big debt to 
Charles A. Comiskey. 

Of the scores who have contributed to this 
volume none has portrayed the character of 
Comiskey more vividly than has A. J. Reach, the 
millionaire sporting goods manufacturer of 
Philadelphia and the partner of Connie Mack. 
Mr. Beach helped the original Athletics to win 
the first championship in baseball in 1871, years 
before Comiskey donned a uniform but the two 
came to know each other intimately later on. As 
soon as the Philadelphia magnate was apprised 

288 " Commy " 

of the project which this book realizes, lie 
wrote : 

I am greatly pleased to hear that the life 
of Comiskey is about to be written and pub- 
lished. No man ever in baseball, with the 
possible exception of Al Spalding, has done 
more for the game in all of its branches, and 
so deserves to have the record of his life and 
of his great deeds written, and thus pre- 
served for the pleasure of this and the 
instruction of future generations of baseball 
fans. Certainly no man in baseball, past or 
present, has done more to deserve such a 
tribute and honor than Charles A. Comiskey. 

I cannot speak of Comiskey as a ball player 
from personal contact or from the intimate 
angle of association on the diamond, as I was 
just ahead of his generation. When Comis- 
key first burst upon the scene along about 
1882 or 1883 I had retired from 'active par- 
ticipation in the game for some years, and 
was devoting most of my time to a growing 
sporting goods business. But I kept in close 
touch with every phase of the game and well 
remember seeing Comiskey play many, many 
times throughout his brilliant major league 
career, which I have followed with interest 
through all the years down to this day. 

From " Commy's " Friends 289 

As a ball player, even in that early day, he 
exhibited all the qualifications which made 
for instant success and laid the foundation 
for his future greatness. He played the first 
base position years ahead of his time and his 
method of playing the bag became the style 
which all modern first basemen must use. He 
was the first guardian of the initial sack who 
realized its fielding possibilities, and played 
it as deep almost as short stop. In all re- 
spects was his fielding of the position a reve- 
lation. In batting and base running he was 
also one of the best men of his day. 

As a manager he was in a class with Harry 
Wright, and shared with that great manager 
the distinction of winning four straight pen- 
nants, something that no other manager, in 
any league, ever accomplished. He was a 
consummate handler of men; knew human 
nature perfectly a faculty which by the 
way he retains to this day; had intimate 
knowledge of the strength and weakness of 
his players and had the ability to get the best 
out of all of them. He was strict with his 
men, yet always fair, and absolutely impar- 
tial, and this won for him the respect as well 
as esteem of his players. His rugged 
impartiality and honesty early acquired for 

290 " Commy " 

him the sobriquet the " Old Roman," which 
has clung to him ever since. 

Charles A. Comiskey stands out as a great 
national heroic figure by reason not only of 
his success, but also because he is the only 
man in the game to-day who has risen from 
the ranks to the position of sole club-owner 
in the second largest city of the country a 
position which has made him probably the 
richest individual club owner in the coun- 
try all achieved by his own labor and 
effort in the face of many discouragements. 

To his artistic excellence must be added 
other distinctions besides the winning of four 
consecutive pennants. I think he is the only 
manager or club owner who has won two 
World's Series in different leagues; he 
shares with Boston the distinction of never 
having lost a World's Series and he shares 
with Mr. Spalding the distinction of having 
spread the gospel of baseball over the earth 
by a world tour of two major league teams, 

Take it all in all the baseball career of 
Comiskey has been wonderful, unique in 
many respects, and superlatively great in 
every way, and it is therefore entirely fitting 
that it should be imperishably commemo- 
rated in a printed volume, for the enlighten- 

From " Commy's " Friends 291 

merit and instruction of this and future gene- 
rations, so that when he is gone we may 
justly say with the immortal bard, " We 
shall not look upon his like again." Mean- 
time I sincerely hope that Comiskey may be 
spared for many years to come in order not 
only to continue his heroic work for the good 
of baseball, but to enjoy the well deserved 
prosperity and popularity that has crowned 
his life work. 

As Mr. Reach is a veteran among owners, so 
is Frank C. Bancroft among the managers. 
* ' Banny " as he is best known to his friends was 
manager of the Providence pennant winners in 
1884 when Charley Radbourne hung up his great 
pitching record. He is now and has been for 
almost a generation business manager of the Cin- 
cinnati Reds. He teamed it with " Commy " in 
the years 1892-93-94. This is what he has to say : 

It was my good fortune to be connected 
with " Commy " from 1892 to 1895 as busi- 
ness manager of the Reds when he managed 
the team. No one was ever more loyal to his 
employers than was " Commy " to Messrs. 
Brush and Lloyd, who owned the club at that 
time. While many of the present-day man- 
agers seem to consider it a favor to play an 

292 " Commy " 

exhibition game " Commy " told me to book 
as many as I could as he considered it better 
for the team to play than to lay idle. He 
was not in the best of health at that time but 
he played in every game scheduled. 

No manager ever had the quick wit that 
Comiskey had. I remember on one occasion 
Mr. Brush and he had a conference. After 
it was over Mr. Brush remarked to me: 
-<< The captain missed his vocation. He 
should have been a lawyer." 

People who knew Mr. Brush can appreciate 
the value of the remark as it came from a 
man who in legal acumen and baseball mat- 
ters, in my belief, never had an equal. 

The " Old Roman " originated a peculiar 
way of playing first base, playing deep in 
right and making his pitchers cover the bag 
when he could not reach it. We have had 
great first basemen since his day but none 
has been in his class. He was also a fighter, 
always leading his team, and I think he has 
landed more pennants than any other man- 
ager who played ball. 

To my mind the American League owes its 
success to the brains of Charles Comiskey 
more than any other man living. It was 
11 Commy " who made Ban Johnson presi- 

From " Comm/s " Friends 293 

dent and no one knows better than Ban him- 
self the value of his counsel. Comiskey has 
a host of friends in Cincinnati and as one 
of them, I voice the sentiment of all, when 
I say that as a man, player and friend, he 
never was or never will be equaled. 

Al Spink was instrumental in signing Comiskey 
for the St. Louis Browns, as secretary of the 
club. Mr. Spink had seen the lean younster play 
on the Chicago lots, as both were natives of Chi- 
cago. Differing from others in his judgment 
of " Commy " as a pitcher, he agrees with the 
rest as to his many other qualities. He writes: 

My first view of Comiskey was in the 
Seventies. At that time in Chicago great 
interest was felt in the amateur games which 
were played on the prairies then surround- 
ing the city. There were diamonds laid out 
at Lake and Ada, Oakley and Monroe, Har- 
rison and Wood, Leavitt and Van Buren and 
at Madison street and Western avenue, on 
the West Side. There were other grounds; 
one on the North Side, where the Atlantics, 
later the Aetnas, held forth, and on the 
South Side the home of the Pastimes. 

The Actives, playing at Lake and Ada 
streets, the West Ends at Oakley and Mon- 

294 " Commy " 

roe, the Mutuals at Leavitt and Van Buren 
and the Libertys at Western avenue, were 
the clubs I often saw Comiskey playing with. 
My first peep at him was when he was pitch- 
ing for the Libertys at Western Avenue and 
Madison street, in a game against the Dread- 
naughts, with Ike Fleming handling his 

Comiskey was then a tall, slender, serious 
faced lad, who sawed wood and said nothing. 
He pitched the ball underhanded, not with 
much speed, but with a very good command 
for that time. 

It was several years after my first view of 
Comiskey in Chicago that Ted Sullivan 
brought the Dubuque Babbits to St. Louis to 
play a series of games with the then co- 
operative Browns. I was secretary of that 
club and it was through my efforts that Sulli- 
van brought the Dubuques to St. Louis to play 
a couple of exhibition games. They came in 
" Sullivan sleepers " from the Iowa town, 
all wearing long linen dusters. 

The arrival of the team in St. Louis, June 
16, 1881, was a momentous occasion for 
Comiskey, for while he had often played in 
what he considered important games before, 
on this day he was to appear for the first time 

From " Commy's " Friends 295 

in Sportsmans Park, a regular baseball 
enclosure. It was on this field and just before 
the game that I had an introduction to 
Comiskey which induced me to write him a 
letter the following winter, offering him a 
position as first baseman of the St. Louis 
Browns, a place which he not only accepted 
but which he filled with wonderful succes 
from 1882 to 1899, inclusive. 

The letter which obtained for Comiskey his 
first professional job was a subject of con- 
versation not long ago when I met him in the 
Bards' room at Comiskey Park. Chatting 
about old t^mes he said: " Al wrote me a 
letter in tht fall of 1881, telling me that Von 
der Ahe, who then virtually ow T ned the St. 
Louis Browns, was signing up- ball players for 
that team, the nine that was to represent St. 
Louis in the American Association in 1882, 
its maiden season. Al said in his letter: 
' They are paying the players from $90 to 
$125 a month. Make your terms as low as 
possible so I can clinch one of the jobs for 

" So there could be no possible chance for 
an argument I put my figure at $90. I got 
that, however, for only one month. The 
second month Vondv raised it to $150." 

296 " Commy " 

Sir Thomas J. Lipton is a great admirer of 
Comiskey. The two have much in common and 
both are of Irish extraction. Sir Thomas is one 
of four in possession of a life pass to the White 
Sox baseball grounds. An interesting story was 
in circulation last winter while I was in London, 
England : 

At the American Army-Navy baseball game 
played July 4, 1918, near London, King George, 
who was present, autographed a baseball which 
was subsequently auctioned off and the proceeds 
turned over to charity. Sir Thomas heard about 
it while with a party of Americans. 

" I have a baseball at home which will bring 
more money, if put up for sale, than any ball in 
existence," he said. " It was presented to me in 
Ceylon, 1914, and it is autographed by Charles A. 

Thomas Foley, the " Father of Billiards," 
knows four generations of Comiskeys. He was an 
intimate friend of " Honest John " Comiskey. 
He saw the alderman's son Charley in his first 
game. He knows Lou, heir of the Old Eoman and 
he has seen Lou's daughter. With him it is, 
" Like father like son." 

" No one could know John Comiskey," said Mr. 
Foley, " without loving the man. He was the 
highest type of gentleman. I can see no differ- 

From " Commy's " Friends 297 

ence in his son Charles. He is a chip of the old 
block with his rugged honesty and pleasing per- 

" I saw Comiskey play in his first games on 
Chicago prairies. He hasn't changed much since 
then except in build and years. He was as serious 
in his application to the game in '76 as he is today. 
Later as a league player and manager I knew him 
well. I know of no man who deserves the success 
which has been his as much as Charles Comiskey. 
They never come to the surface any better." 

Ted Sullivan has generally been given the 
credit for the discovery of Comiskey as a ball 
player. At any rate the veteran organizer gave 
him his first paying job. The two .first met 45 
years ago. Sullivan had a high opinion of the 
" kid." The impression still remains: 

I met Charles Comiskey on the campus of 
a Western college where we both were stu- 
dents. We met again in Chicago and renewed 
old acquaintanceship one year after leaving 
school, so we have been friends in business 
and baseball since he was 17 years old. 

I saw " Commy " begin as a humble 
player at a salary of $75 a month with me. 
I saw him advance to * captain of the St. 
Louis Browns, a team that I managed and 

298 " Commy " 

then he succeeded me as manager. I saw him 
as a club owner in the Western League, a 
league that became the " American " after- 
wards and made so by the ambition and 
natural ability of Comiskey. 

He entered his native city against the pro- 
tests of the National League and he did it 
with a boldness that has ever been his chief 
trait. In loftiness and purity of character, 
and with a sportsmanship that has given him 
the great quality that has endeared him to 
the citizens of Chicago, he stands to-day in a 
class by himself. 

He is without a taint in speech or thought ; 
he never was guilty of a vulgar or obscene 
story. As a wit he is original. He stands 
to-day above his compeers in the National 
game as a mountain does above its foothills. 

As a ball player Comiskey was the equal 
of Cobb as a run-getter. It was when a 
game was close that his greatness came to 
the surface. To tie up a game or win it in a 
pinch when on the bases was his delight. 
Time and time again I saw him do it while 
playing and captaining the four-time winners 
of the American Association. 

As a first baseman he never had an equal 
in mentality or mechanical finish. He was 

From " Commy's " Friends 299 

the poetry of motion in receiving or fielding 
the ball and this, added to his magnetism and 
dash, made him the most finished first base- 
man in the history of the game. 

Joe Cantillon, manager of the Minneapolis 
team in the American Association, found out that 
a story on " Commy " was being written. It 
interested Joe, as no one has been closer to the 
" Old Roman " than he. When the two did not 
scrap over decisions on the ball fields or, later, 
over trades, they usually were fishing or hunting 
together. As a story teller Joe is second only to 
the owner of the White Sox. In his own inimit- 
able style he sat down and wrote twenty pages of 
reminiscences to the author, the longest letter he 
ever indited. Some of the material has been incor- 
porated in other parts of the book. His closing 
sentence has not It is: 

1 1 There will never, never be another ' Commy, ' 
so go as strong as you can." 

This homely tribute, we believe, came from the 
heart. Others, it seems, have been dictated by 
similar emotions. Had they not, there would have 
been no chapter on " appreciation," nor could it 
have been added: 

" He played no favorites." 

' ' He never hit below the belt. ' ' 



Life is one of epigrams Comiskey never saw a 
popular auditor Cuts his cloth according to 
means Queer experiences with ball players Um- 
pires as he saw them Sun glasses and a $6 mat- 
tress Puts aside the crown World does not 
owe him a living. 

Analyzing Comiskey 's character is a task for 
the psychologist. The author of this book and 
numerous contributors have touched upon some 
of his traits, but merely as observers. What 
follows may not adequately portray his many- 
sided nature but it will help to tint the picture. 

Comiskey 's life has been one of epigrams. Inci- 
sive irony and wit have punctuated his speech on 
the field and around the council table. Pointed 
retorts have disarmed opponents. A terse com- 
ment has often swung a big business deal. He has 
always hit straight from the shoulder with single- 
ness of purpose but even though hewing to the 
line, caution has ever dictated the distribution 
of the chips. 


Pen Picture of the " Old Roman " 301 

He has avoided the complex in life. With him 
it has been aiming at the bull's eye. His vision 
has been straight ahead. Sometimes he has left 
the impression that he permitted his affairs to 
drift with the stream, but at the same time no one 
ever noticed that he picked out the wrong landing 
place. Again he has shown traits of inconsistency. 
He has been given credit for having a well 
balanced mind but some allege he has amassed a 
fortune without a system. 

Rivals of Comiskey insist that he is a keen 
business man one of the shrewdest in the game 
yet the needs have always determined the daily 
procedure in the conduct of his own affairs. Dur- 
ing his first ten years in Chicago he got along 
without the services of a bookkeeper. Charles 
Fredericks, a nephew who combined the duties of 
secretary and treasurer of the White Sox club, 
kept the office ledger in his inside coat pocket. 
Each year he had to invest fifteen cents for a new 
book, but not a penny went astray. The handling 
of the funds was simplicity itself. Each day's 
receipts were dumped into a satchel and taken to 
a downtown bank. Necessary payments were made 
by check. What was left at the end of the season 
was reckoned as profits. 

A friend of Comiskey suggested the employ- 
ment of an efficiency expert for his office, after he 

302 " Commy " 

had moved into the quarters he now occupies. 

" I don't need him," said Comiskey. " It isn't 
system that the fans want. They want seats and 
good ball games. I never saw a popular auditor 

The lack of system did not prevent him from 
running his club on business principles. His 
players received what they were worth when they 
first signed. If they lasted perhaps they got more 
than they could earn in time. Gossip had it that 
he was " free with his friends but ' close ' with 
his ball players." There is a heap o' truth in the 
first. The fact that not a single one of his play- 
ers jumped to the Federal League gives the lie 
to the second. 

Comiskey 's fixed principle was always to gauge 
the outlay for ball players by his receipts. If the 
income did not match the expenses the team would 
be trimmed down. Thus, he did not start out as 
an owner with special trains nor put up in the 
finest hotels. As soon as the bank roll permitted, 
nothing was too good for his men. 

" The man who does not keep track of the pay 
roll has no business in baseball," he said once 
when told that a major league magnate had gone 

How he cut his cloth according to his means 
was illustrated while he was in St. Paul. He had 

Pen Picture of the " Old Roman " 303 

a chance to buy Chauncey Fisher from the Cin- 
cinnati Club. Joe Cantillon was the biggest 
booster for the pitcher. 

1 ' He would be a great man for your league and 
you should get him, ' ' urged Cantillon. 

<l But he wants $275 a month," interposed 

" Well, he is worth it to you," insisted Joe. 

"Is he if I don't take in the money at the 
gate? " queried Commy. 

Comiskey had little patience with the player 
who developed expensive tastes with the growth 
of the game. Once he was apprised that one of his 
star players was going to quit unless he was given 
an increase over his $10,000 salary. 

" So he is going to quit, is he! " mused Comis- 
key. " When I was playing ball I was always 
afraid that the game was going to quit me." 

Although the owner of the Sox encouraged 
saving on the part of his men he was as little 
enamored of the miser as of the spendthrift or 
the aristocratic hold-out. Starting his career in 
" Sullivan sleepers," which meant the day coach, 
he never has been able to fully appreciate the 
idiosyncrasies of modern ball players. It has 
always been a puzzle to him why a player who at 
home thought he was wasting his own money if 
he paid more than $5 a week at a boarding house 

304 " Commy " 

should roar at an ' ' upper ' ' or protest against 
not getting a front room on the parlor floor. 

On a training trip one spring the team stopped 
at the best hotel in New Orleans. The third day 
one of the players, who had been known to do hia 
own cooking at home, announced that he was going 
to quit. He was asked why. 

" I can't stand the eats," was his reply. 

In the early days the players were given $3 a 
day for meals while on trains. One of the men on 
a trip to Boston left Chicago with $1.50 in his 
pocket. He arrived with $3.50, but roared because 
the caviar served at the hotel was not to his liking. 

On the first training trip of the Sox to Cali- 
fornia the team was put up at what was considered 
the best and highest priced hotel in San Fran- 
cisco. It had such a reputation for exclusiveness 
that John I. Taylor, then owner of the Boston Red 
Sox had offered to wager $100 with' Comiskey that 
he couldn't get in. On the team at the time was a 
big raw-boned rookie. After having enjoyed the 
hospitality of the place for two days the recruit 
threatened to leave. 

" What's the trouble? " asked Comiskey. 

" Why, he complains because it is too swell and 
that there are too many rugs in the lobby. He 
slipped on one and sprained his ankle," explained 
the manager. 


Pen Picture of the " Old Roman " 305 

Comiskey still remembers one player who didn't 
kick. Coming up from Texas one spring the team 
had to take potluck in a second rate Oklahoma 
hotel. Everybody kicked and the gang didn 't care 
how far their voices carried. " Tex " Jones, a 
lanky Kansan, was trying out with the team. After 
he had listened to the conversation in the dining 
room a few times he stopped all arguments with 

" I haven't any license to kick. It is better 
than I get at home." 

The hospital list on a modern ball team is 
another thing the " Old Roman " is unable to 

Having been educated in a school where hard 
knocks were the daily program and where a ball 
team was made up of ten or twelve men, he occa- 
sionally fails properly to sympathize with the 
" injured " player. 

" When I was in the game I didn't dare to stay 
out for fear that somebody would get my job, ' ' he 
said in discussing the tendency of high priced 
athletes to lay off on the least provocation. 

Several years ago John Anderson cavorted 
around first base and in the outfield with the 
White Sox. Comiskey found it to the advantage 
of the team to carry an extra man while Anderson 
was incapacitated by reason of sickness or spit- 

306 " Commy " 

ball pitchers, either of which put him on the side- 
lines. Following one season Comiskey was on an 
outing when he received a letter from Anderson 
asking a $3,000 salary. 

*' Pretty strong," suggested Commy 's com- 

" Yes, it is," said Comiskey after a pause, " but 
maybe John is going to pay the substitute him- 

Being of a restless disposition and always up 
and doing, it grated on " Commy 's " nerves to see 
extra players do nothing but take on weight. 
"When manager of the Cincinnati team Morgan 
Murphy caught practically all the games, accord- 
ing to Frank Bancroft. This left Harry Vaughn, 
the second backstop on the bench most of the time. 
Spotting Harry at the end of the board during a 
sizzling game he said : 

" Harry, I don't want to overwork you, but will 
you please carry the mask and chest protector to 
Morgan. ' ' 

Joe Cantillon came out to the Sox ball park the 
morning of the first game between the Sox and 
Cubs for the world's championship in 1906. Joe 
wanted a tip on the chances of the South Siders 
and noticing a bandage on a player's hand, asked 
" Commy " about it. 

" I don't know why he is wearing it, but I sup- 

Pen Picture of the " Old Roman " 307 

pose he has heard that we are going to play him 
today," was Comiskey's response. 

Being a past master of irony the players usu- 
ally dodged him after a blunder. Sometimes the 
field was too small for this maneuver. Scott 
Stratton of the St. Paul team found it so after he 
had taken three healthy swings as a pinch hitter. 

" I did the very best I could," mumbled Strat- 
ton on his return. 

" Yes, I think you did, Scott, but I did the very 
worst in sending you up, ' ' said Comiskey. 

That hard-loser streak in his makeup usually 
cropped out in every game. What the players 
missed in sarcasm the umpires caught. Joe Can- 
tillon, then an umpire and " winter friend " of 
Commy, " stopped " most of the verbal attacks, 
probably because " Commy " enjoyed his 
repartee, for which he was noted. Once in St. 
Paul, when Detroit was leading the Saints 16 to 
in the eighth inning Joe called the game on 
account of darkness. Comiskey accosted him. 

" Why did you call the game? " demanded the 
irate manager. 

" You didn't think you had a chance to win it, 
did you? " retorted the umpire. 

" No, not after you had called it," responded 

" In a series of games between St. Paul and 

308 " Commy " 

Minneapolis, always bitterly fought," relates 
Cantillon, " President Johnson sent up an extra 
umpire to help me out. We opened up at St. Paul 
and my assistant being a strictly ' home ' umpire 
started in to trim Minneapolis right and left. I 
was roasted to a turn while everybody cheered the 

" On the following day we played in Minne- 
apolis and Ban's arbitrator reversed his tactics of 
the day before. As decision after decision went 
against St. Paul, * Commy ' finally yelled: 

11 * Joe, are you going to stand for that crook 
trimming me in this way! ' 

' ' Well, your people cheered him all day yester- 
day," I answered. 

" l That's all right, Joe,' said Comiskey, ' He 
will be a great man for me again tomorrow, but I 
want you to take care of me today.' 

All the irony was not vented on the umpires. 
While Jimmy Callahan was manager, John Col- 
lins, the veteran right fielder, fell as he was get- 
ting set to catch a long fly in an important game. 
The mishap cost two runs. Collins had new sun 
goggles, the purchase of which Comiskey had 

When the manager entered the Old Roman's 
office the following morning he was greeted with: 

" Well, I got that bill of $9 for Collins' sun 

Pen Picture of the " Old Roman " 309 

glasses, all right. While you were about it why 
didn't you add $6 more and get him a mattress." 

On the whole, taking into consideration aes- 
thetic tastes and other peculiarities, Comiskey has 
less trouble with his players than perhaps any 
other owner in the game. The reason is because 
he plays no favorites. He alone is the judge of 
the worth of the man he signs and after one con- 
tract there is seldom any grounds for complaints. 
The player depends on Comiskey for a square 
deal and if he delivers, he knows that he is going 
to get everything that is coming to him. 

A similar policy marks " Commy 's " affairs 
outside of his ball club. Ever since he first 
started to make " copy " for the newspapers 
there has been much mystery why he should get 
so much publicity. There is no secret about it. 
He has furnished news fit to print, has treated 
the cub reporter with as much consideration as 
the veteran, has been without an " organ," and 
has never asked for a retraction. 

" Print the story first and then have Commy 
confirm it," has been the rule among newspaper 
men whenever anyone has thought that he had an 
exclusive item. If the opposite tack were pur- 
sued Commy would be certain to call up all the 
rest of the " boys " and it would no longer be 
a " scoop." To deny a yarn because it was not 

310 " Commy " 

true or because it didn't please him, never entered 
his mind. Pressed for an explanation he would 
find refuge in, " Well, it must be right. The 
Bazoo says so." If on the other hand the truth 
or falsity of a report needed clearing up, a 
" Comiskey statement " would stand the test. 
Never an equivocation. It was either " yes " or 
" no." These are the reasons why he has broken 
into print more often, perhaps, than any other 
man in the game. 

Although perhaps art did not appeal to Comis- 
key as strongly as a .300 slugger there could be 
no doubt of his appreciation of its utilitarian 
advantages. While walking through the National 
Museum at Naples, Italy, he paused in front of 
the heroic statue of Hercules. He permitted his 
eyes to roam admiringly over the massive figure 
until they rested on the huge club which had done 
such execution in the Theban and Cretan leagues, 
and mused: 

"What a pinch hitter he would have made! " 

Comiskey is fair game for the joker, but he has 
made it a practice never to * ' kid ' ' himself. 

" Why not mayor of Chicago? " was the query 
propounded to the " Old Roman " by influential 
politicians, who several years ago decided that 
the owner of the White Sox would poll a vote 
commensurate with his popularity. 

Pern Picture of the " Old Roman " 311 

" I would rather win a pennant than an elec- 
tion," was the answer. 

He explained that he was a baseball man first, 
last and all the time, and that politics and the 
game did not mix. 

The subject of this sketch is not without his 
faults, but his worst would seem as virtues to 
many. He is prone to exaggerate a personal slight 
and to enlarge upon the motives of those with 
whom he disagrees. He is sensitive as regards his 
own honor and reputation. Considering his mental 
bent, this is but natural, as he himself insists in 
playing all the cards above the table. 

In a fight ke is uncompromising if he thinks he 
is right. He will have to be " shown " to be 
proven wrong. He is a hard loser, but a generous 
opponent. He will go the limit for a friend, but 
it will take much persuasion to make him forget 
an injury. 

He is considerate to the last degree, but knows 
how to insist upon his rights. He is original, but 
without mannerisms. He is a mixer and spender, 
but knows the value of money. 

Comiskey's personal magnetism gains him 
friends wherever he goes but he holds them 
because he is human. He is a good judge of his 
fellow men but occasionally falls a prey to the 
designing. He has little patience with the non- 

312 " Commy " 

producer and this has given him the reputation of 
a hard task master. He is a self-made man and, 
like his kind, expects much from others. He is 
independent in means, habits and thoughts, 
standing on his own feet. What sets him apart 
from those who enjoy his hospitality is that the 
chief tenet in his creed is that the world does 
NOT OWE him a living. 

From the beginning he has been walking in 
the open. He has simple tastes, living most of 
his life in a cottage or a " flat," but he has spent 
a quarter of million dollars on his friends. " To 
buy " has been a privilege with him that he has 
been chary to accord to others. 

Physically " Commy " is of the upstanding 
type six feet in height. His facial contour 
helped to bestow upon him the appellation " Old 
Roman." He can now be classed among the 
heavyweights, but he was not always so. When, 
playing ball, altitude was all he could boast of. 
When he wanted to make a " front " as an 
athlete he thrust his nether limbs into two pairs 
of heavy stockings and even then no bulging 
calves showed. 

In middle life an abundance of black, wavy 
locks gave him the appearance of Edwin Booth. 
His hair is more sparse now, but his forehead has 
not receded. For years he has affected a gray 

Pen Picture of the " Old Roman " 313 

hat of distinctive shape, the headpiece matching 
in color a pair of piercing eyes. It is the " Old 
Gray Bonnet " that the Bards sing about. They 
also set the story of the " Homeplate " to music. 

The " Homeplate ' : ' is a cottage up in the 
woods, presented to the " Old Roman " a few 
years ago by hundreds of friends who have par- 
taken of his hospitality. A Chicago judge made 
the presentation speech. " Commy " responded. 
He stood on a tree stump in delivering it. I only 
remember one thing that he said. I couldn't 
forget that. It was the index to his character. 
I believe it was from the heart. It was: 

" All my life I have tried to be on the square 
with myself.'* 



It is fitting that the man who has furnished 
the subject matter for the preceding chapters 
should have a hearing on his own account. Up 
to this time he has had a chance only to vouch 
for the facts, so permit the " Old Roman " to 
speak for himself: 

By Charles A. Comiskey. 

Having a biography prepared has always 
seemed to me as either superfluous or in the nature 
of an epitaph. The omission of both sometimes 
would seem to be of an advantage to the living. 
Also the " story " of a man should denote some 
achievement. I hope that what I have accom- 
plished has been in the open, so it cannot be con- 
sidered new. If it has not been out of the com- 
monplace it should not be called noteworthy. 
Others have done as much as well, so I must 
consider it a special compliment of the author 
and publisher to have taken the chance they have 
in producing tkis book. 


By "Commy" Himself 315 

I can furnish no secret documents from hidden 
archives but I can make the statement that the 
world has given me a square deal possibly 
more than I am entitled to. I can think of no 
exception. It has been all the same whether I 
have been a temporary or a permanent guest in 
any community in which I have lived. 

I was perfectly satisfied with the West Side of 
Chicago when I was in knickerbockers. I hope 
it was with me. They treated me fine in Mil- 
waukee, in Elgin and Dubuque. No one could 
have been given more consideration than I was 
in St. Louis. It is impossible to register a kick 
against Cincinnati and it is with pleasure that I 
recall my five-year stay in St. Paul. I think I 
left with a fair share of the population my 

Naturally Chicago has seemed different to me 
from the rest. It has never ceased to be my home. 
I was born here and here I hope to finish. If the 
people think as much of me as I do of them there 
can be no grounds for disagreement. There is no 
sectional feeling in my allegiance to the city of 
my birth because there happens to be a White 
Sox family on the South Side. I have as many 
personal friends on the West and North sides 
as I have on the South. 

Words cannot express my real feelings towards 

316 " Commy " 

the people of Chicago. Did I have the power of 
expression that others possess I would com- 
pletely fail in voicing my appreciation of what 
they have done for me. They encouraged me 
when I first came to the city. Since then they 
have built a ball park for me and made it possible 
for me to get together teams which, at different 
times, have been fortunate enough to repay them 
for their outlay. Not I or my managers have 
won pennants for Chicago. The fans alone have 
raised the flags which have flown on the South 

Occasionally I have been charged with the 
crime of " buying " pennants. If I am guilty it 
has been for the sake of those who furnished 
the money. I have been counted a hard loser. 
My friends wanted me to have a winner. The 
fans have insisted upon it. The winning of indi- 
vidual ball games contributes to the total and 
without more victories at the end of the season 
than anyone else there would have been no cham- 

I have fought for every point because, through 
bitter experience, I early learned that one lost 
decision sometimes may mean the loss of a pen- 
nant. It is the small things in life which count; 
it is the inconsequential leak which empties the 
biggest reservoir. 

By " Commy " Himself 317 

Many have spoken about my luck. I admit that 
I have been fortunate in many of my undertak- 
ings but I do not think that success is governed 
by the throw of the dice. I do not claim that 
I have been more foresighted than others. I have 
had my reverses but I have tried not to lose my 

The real secret of my good luck has been that 
I could always figure on support. You can do 
wonders when you have everybody with you. I 
may not be able to figure out why my friends 
have been with me but they have. Perhaps it is 
because I have tried to be on the level with them. 
That should not be a source of pride to me as it 
is part of good business. No one has any license 
to brag because he is honest. That should be 
natural instinct and, besides, if you are not, they 
put you in jail. Honesty is merely a form of 

I have been given credit, sometimes entirely 
unearned, for doing many things for the advance- 
ment of the game. I have fought for it because 
the game deserved it. Baseball is the greatest 
sport in the world. It is the cleanest, besides 
affording more people the right kind of amuse- 
ment than any other. I do not say that because I 
have made my living at it. I say it from the heart. 
There have been reports now and then that I con- 

318 " Commy " 

template disposing of my ball club. I never had 
any such intentions. I would be lost without my 
team. I have spent my life in the game and I 
have no regrets. To me it has not been misspent. 

Formerly sport was not regarded as a proper 
calling for young men. It is beginning to assume 
its rightful place in society. To me baseball is as 
honorable as any other business. It is the most 
honest pastime in the world. It has to be or it 
could not last a season out. Crookedness and 
baseball do not mix. It has become immeasur- 
ably more popular as the years have gone by. It 
will be greater yet. This year, 1919, is the great- 
est season of them all. 

The reason for the popularity of the sport is 
that it fits in with the temperament of the Amer- 
ican people and because it is on the square. Every- 
thing is done in the open. What the magnates 
do behind the screens the fans care nothing about. 

Year by year a higher and higher class of play- 
ers come into the game. This is not meant as a 
slur on those of the earlier days, the pioneers, but 
it is a proof of the attraction it has for young men. 
The rewards of today are, of course, more in keep- 
ing with the efforts than was the case when I broke 
into the game. I started in at $3 a day. Now 
some players get that much a minute, counting 
their actual playing time. 

By " Commy " Himself 319 

As to a comparison between the players of my 
days and today there is no way of arriving at a 
conclusion. It is quite possible to pick a " greatest 
team," but the selection would be based purely 
on personal opinion. I think I had wonderful 
players in Caruthers, Foutz, Bill Gleason, 'Neill, 
Bushong and others, but it would be a matter of 
opinion to compare these with such stars as Ed 
Walsh, Billy Sullivan, Jiggs Donohue, Joe Jack- 
son, Happy Felsch, Eddie Collins, Ray Schalk, 
Eddie Cicotte and a score or more equally as good 
who have played for me on my Chicago teams. 

We have Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy 
Mathewson, Babe Ruth, Grover Alexander, and a 
host of others. How would they have stacked up 
with Radbourne, Sweeney, Ramsey, Williamson, 
Barnes, Pfeffer, Anson, Clarkson, Kelly, and such 
outstanding figures'? It is hard to tell. Batting 
averages and pitching records do not give the 
answer, as conditions under which they played 
were different from those of today. 

Personally I think Ty Cobb of the Detroit team 
is the greatest player of all time. This is no dis- 
paragement to others. Ty is in a class by himself. 
He is a wonderful batter and would have been 
able to hit any kind of pitching in the old days as 
well. He is one of the speediest men in the 
game. He is as good a fielder as one would want, 

320 " Commy " 

but above all he is a thinker when in the game. 
His mind works every minute and he carries the 
team along with him. 

In sportsmanship there is little to differentiate 
the Eighties from the present. We fought to win 
then. The right kind of team does so now. Per- 
haps we were a little rougher about it than they 
are now and it seemed that we could stand harder 
knocks then than can players of today. I do not 
mean that the boys have less grit today. I have 
some of the gamest players in the world on my 
own team, but then there was less arnica on tap. 

The spirit of the game remains the same and 
that is why I take pride in being identified with 
it. With me baseball will never grow old. In 
my own estimation it may not have improved so 
much as many believe, but regardless of every- 
thing it is the same good old game. If I have con- 
tributed to its success I do not refer to this in the 
sense of boasting. I had to or fall out of the ranks. 
It was a fast game when I played it and the pace 
was hot. As the fans know, I have often had 
trouble in keeping up with it since then, but they 
have been forebearing. What I have tried to do 
has been my level best. 



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